Innovation is forever

My dad yesterday told me he was going to prepare a presentation on Innovation, and asked me “what is innovation?” The question caught me offguard, since innovation is a pretty broad topic. I thought up a pop science answer to the question and told him this:

Innovation is like a diamond. It can be quantified with 4 C’s:

Creativity: The ability to think laterally. This can be augmented with TRIZ, mindmapping, Blue Sky sessions and other methods of generating that “spark”.

Commitment: A clear focus, tangible support from management, plus consistent flow of resources. If you keep pulling people off research, nothing will be accomplished.

Collaboration: Maximizing knowledge reuse. This may mean creating interdisciplinary teams.

Communication: There is more to collaboration than teamwork. It’s also asking the tough questions, doing to due diligence, networking with experts, and debriefing colleagues.

Open source in Canada

Will be heading to the Open Source Conference tomorrow at the University of Toronto. It takes place between May 9 to 11, and features such speakers as Bob Young (RedHat co-founder and owner of the Ti-Cats), Eben Moglen (FSF), and even a guy from MS’s Shared Source Initiative. I hope it will be informative.

Some industry stats from the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance:

Open source is becoming an explicit component in enterprise IT strategy and architecture. Only 13% of respondents do not include open source in their strategy. The majority acknowledged open source as both an:

  • Implicit component such as a default option for the web, e.g. Apache (55%) or part of commercial hardware or software (30%)
  • Explicit component such as open source business applications (50%) or custom in-house code (51%), for the purposes of both middleware/interoperability and business solution functionality.
  • Almost half of respondents have defined formal policies and practices for both internal open source development , and only a quarter for external sharing back to the open community.

Most interestingly, Canadian IT departments list OSS’s #1 benefit is reliability, followed by performance and then price. The top two concerns are intellectual property concerns, and the hassle to research and assess the software. has some extra background on this CATA survey, however: the survey only attracted a few hundred responses, and 75% of them were from SMBs.

I think that many open source applications is at a tipping point right now. They’re maturing rapidly versus the proprietary market leaders, but the market leaders are entrenched in their positions and are fiercely fighting back, sometimes with innovative tech and sometimes with marketing tactics (such as “FUD”). Regardless, I think many OSS applications will either make the big time or never will.