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The Innovation Journey

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The Innovation Journey

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A detailed dissection of how companies come up with and implement new ideas.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Andrew H. Van de Ven and his co-authors, quite an innovative crew, have crafted a thorough academic model of the corporate innovation process. The authors use a river rafting trip analogy for the innovation journey, where uncharted, challenging territory demands leadership and cooperation. The river metaphor is good to keep in mind here, because the subject matter gets a little dry. The team found that common factors exist in every quest for innovation, and constructed a cohesive model for innovators. The material - resulting from 17 years of research at the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Innovation Research Foundation (MIRP) - is truly exhaustive, detailed and academic. Because of this, a reader with no background in innovation theory might find it somewhat arcane. getabstract recommends this book to anyone who wants to understand the complex process of corporate innovation.


Dropping Old Theories about Innovation

Innovation is a complex process, but similarities exist in all innovative efforts. Existing innovation theories propose that linear, progressive and random forces determine the direction of innovation. Now, advances in dynamic systems theory, a branch of mathematics, enable a more intense study of chaos. Studying the development of innovation through this prism shows that innovation is nonlinear and cyclical. The innovation process repeats cycles of divergent (scattered) and convergent (unified) activities over time and at different levels in your organization.

You must throw out previous thinking about innovation. The discards include theories that innovation happens in organized progression; that innovation is affected by random forces; that innovations converge to a common outcome regardless of how they originated, and that the whole process has a degree of predictability.

Recurring cycles of divergent and convergent activity can be seen in several major factors that influence innovation, including the development of economic structures that support innovation, the manner in which learning occurs within innovation teams...

About the Authors

Andrew H. Van de Ven led the MIRP research project. He is the Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Douglas E. Polley, Raghu Garud, and Sankaran Venkataraman all received doctorates from the Carlson School of Management, and were integral members of the MIRP team.

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