Pursuit of the great idea is the opiate of the management class. For teams, companies, and whole societies, great ideas promise an easy cure that doesn’t require the vision and discipline to construct the networks—bringing together the right people, ideas, and technologies—that create true and lasting change. Truth is, ideas are cheap. The more time managers spend searching for great ideas, the less time they spend doing what makes ideas great. The great breakthroughs, from the electric light to penicillin to the iPhone, came from existing ideas, and which company becomes successful and which a footnote depends on who builds the better network around that idea.
In other words, the network is the innovation, and netstorming describes the process of designing the networks that rewire an organization’s core business model, strategy, and their competitive landscape. More specifically, netstorming focuses on what managers need to (1) envision the critical partnerships that form the core of a new network, (2) build those partnerships quickly and with trust and mutual advantage, and (3) sustain those partnerships through the often wrenching changes that follow the launch of these networks.
The greatest inventors and world changing innovations of modern times never really had to invent much of anything. From Ford’s production line to Microsoft’s operating system, all truly great innovations have been pieced together from existing technologies. Hargadon helps you see that ingenuity lies within us all when we realize that all it often takes to create the next great product or service is the ability to see the world around us in new ways.
Andrew Hargadon is an Associate Professor of Technology Management at the Graduate School of Management and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and of the Energy Efficiency Center at University of California, Davis. Prior to his academic appointment, he worked as a product designer at IDEO and Apple Computer and taught in the Product Design program at Stanford University. He is author of How Breakthroughs Happen (HBS Press, 2003)
Professor Hargadon’s research focuses on the effective management of innovation, and he has written extensively on knowledge and technology brokering, the role of learning and knowledge management in innovation, and the strategic role of design in managing technology transitions.
His research has been used to develop or guide new innovation programs in organizations as diverse as the Canadian Health Services, Silicon Valley start-ups, Hewlett-Packard, and the US Navy. He has published numerous articles and chapters in leading scholarly and applied publications including Harvard Business Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, California Management Review, and Research in Organizational Behavior. He serves on the editorial board of Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Organization Studies, and the Academy of Management Review. He teaches corporate executive programs and gives lectures on the creativity, design, and the management of innovation.
Professor Hargadon received his Ph.D. from the Management Science and Engineering Department in Stanford University’s School of Engineering, where he was named Boeing Fellow and Sloan Foundation Future Professor of Manufacturing. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Stanford University’s Product Design Program in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
He is Principal of the Hargadon Group, through which he lectures and works with companies on the management of innovation, and serves on the advisory boards of several start-ups.