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Experiments in Open Innovation at Harvard Medical School

This article examines an experiment in open innovation applied to scientific research at Harvard Medical School. Harvard Catalyst, a pan-Harvard agency, modified the traditional grant proposal process to bring greater openness into every stage of research. In the end, 150 new hypotheses were proposed. The Harvard Catalyst experience suggests that open-innovation principles can be applied to a well-established research organization.

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How to Change an Organization Without Blowing It Up

Too often, organizational change occurs all at once, on a large scale, and often in response to crisis. Yet we know from a great deal of experience that such transformation attempts often fail, fostering employee discontent and producing mediocre solutions with little lasting impact.

Continuously pursuing smaller-scale changes — and weaving them together — offers a practical middle path between large-scale transformation and small-scale pilot projects

Image courtesy of Flickr user Linh_rOm.

What Great Projects Have in Common

From time to time a company’s project truly stands out, creating exceptional value and having an impact on the industry. IBM’s AS/400 development effort in the 80s was a game changer and gave IBM a competitive edge. Apple Inc.’s success in creating the iPod portable media player and iTunes online store is another more recent example of a great project — one that changed the way people listen to and buy music. Why are such projects so rare — and why can’t more projects be like them?

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Collaboration matters

  • Blog
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How important is collaboration to breakthrough innovation? And, conversely, how significant are the contributions of inventors who work alone? In a recent working paper, Lee Fleming of Harvard and Jasjit Singh of INSEAD take a new look at this topic.

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Free Article

Secrets of a collaborative, creative culture

  • Blog
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Want your employees to generate great ideas together? Try hooking your coffee machines up to a network. At least, that's one of the insights John Seely Brown shared in a speech on creativity at the University of Southern California earlier this year.

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The Art of Making Change Initiatives Stick

Too many managers have experienced this scenario: The chief executive announces a bold new corporate initiative aimed at generating dramatic performance improvements. The initiative calls for sweeping changes in the company’s processes, systems and culture. The launch proceeds with great fanfare and a substantial investment of the company’s resources.

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Building Better Teams

A conventional wisdom about teams is that they tend to perform better when members exchange knowledge freely among themselves and outsiders. Another widely accepted notion is that diversity among team members leads to better performance because of the range of viewpoints and experience of the different individuals.

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Hurdle the Cross-Functional Barriers to Strategic Change

The authors track a strategic decision in a Fortune 500 corporation, identify political obstacles that overshadowed the process, and highlight turning points in the strategy’s direction. The unfolding Techno story provides a close look at the implications for organizing team-based processes and managing the politics of technological change.

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