Archive for May, 2010

What is Innovation? There has been much talk about this in the recent past. However, is the concept of corporate innovation new? Is this merely old wine in new bottle? Is it as elusive as it is perceived to be?

Let’s take a leaf from the past. About 1625, Sir Francis Bacon magnificently described an organization that was totally innovation oriented in the ideal world of Nova Atlantis.

For the several employments and offices of our fellows, we have twelve that sail into foreign countries under the names of other nations (for our own we conceal), who bring us the books and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call merchants of light.

We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call depredators.

We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts, and also of liberal sciences, and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call mystery–men.

We have three that try new experiments, such as themselves think good. These we call pioneers or miners.

We have three that draw the experiments of the former four into titles and tables, to give the better light for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them. These we call compilers.

We have three that bend themselves, looking into the experiments of their fellows, and cast about how to draw out of them things of use and practice for man’s life and knowledge, as well for works as for plain demonstration of causes, means of natural divinations, and the easy and clear discovery of the virtues and parts of bodies. These we call dowry–men or benefactors.

Then after divers meetings and consults of our whole number, to consider of the former labours and collections, we have three that take care out of them to direct new experiments, of a higher light, more penetrating into nature than the former. These we call lamps.

Lastly, we have three that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms. These we call interpreters of nature.

We have three others that do execute the experiments so directed, and report them. These we call inoculators. We have also, as you must think, novices and apprentices, that the succession of the former employed men do not fail; beside a great number of servants and attendants, men and women. And this we do also: We have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not: and take all an oath of secrecy for the concealing of those which we think fit to keep secret: though, some of those we do reveal sometimes to the State, and some not.