In the western world, and in any other competitive environment, innovation is the key to survival. It is a matter of life and death for companies around the world. Knowledge-creating organizations (including software development organizations) should be focused primarily on innovation, wrote Professor Ikujiro Nonaka in The Knowledge Creating Company.
Well, isn’t that a coincidence…
Innovation happens to be a concept that finds itself at the very heart of my favorite topic: complexity science. Researchers found that complex adaptive systems actively seek a position between order and chaos, because innovation and adaptation are maximized when systems find themselves at “the edge of chaos”.
Innovation is a typical bottom-up phenomenon. Publications like Complexity and Innovation in Organizations, and Complexity Perspectives in Innovation and Social Change emphasize that innovation is doomed to fail when launched by upper management as top-down programs of "special" people, assigned with the difficult task of inventing something new. This approach reflects a causal deterministic view of trying to take charge of what’s going to happen in the future. It usually doesn’t work.
The complex systems approach says that innovation is not a planned result, but an emergent result. Innovation just happens in self-organizing teams. But, for things to emerge there has to be something to emerge out of. And the key ingredients for innovation are: knowledge, creativity, motivation, diversity, and personality.