Friday 3 January 2020

A Better Way (2020)

For the past few years I have been working on a longish book on what innovation means to me. It is called A Better Way: A primer on Innovation

After a lot of work over the Xmas break I have created the image above, which is the first complete mapping of the topics in the eleven essays which make up the book. 

In total the book will be about 65,000 words, with 40+ illustrations. I have done quite some work on a book design, and if I can't find a publisher, I will typeset and produce the book myself. 

I feel like I can get this finished in 2020. 

The Preface is as follows:

Innovation is a never ending cycle of human social activity that started deep in our pre-history. It proceeds like a chain reaction, which is fuelled by two things. The first is our instinctive need to tinker with the human-made ideas and things which we are surrounded by. The second is our drive to share with others what we know or have made. These processes do not run in an unconstrained way. If they did there might be an explosion. Luckily, there are also factors which slow down and control the chain reaction, and this creates the opportunity for new ideas to become productive parts of our everyday lives. In balance with the two fuels for the chain reaction, there are two things which control and slow down innovation. The first is the quantity of energy which is needed to translate ideas and inventions into real innovations. The second is the omnipresent, and stabilising effects of human tradition.

The title of the book comes from a short talk I gave at the University of Liverpool on a rainy winter evening in 2013. The question I was asked to talk about was ‘How will the Business of Innovation become Business as Usual?’ My talk began:
Over the past twenty-five years, I have been lucky enough to have worked on the `business of innovation' and have been paid to do so. Although I have specialised in technological innovation, what I have learned is that innovation is not mainly about university science labs or high-technology or patents or start-up companies or venture capital investment. Innovation is mainly about taking seriously what you already do today and believing that: `There must be a better way!' 
This book is based on what I have learned from more than thirty years as a practising innovator, from conversations I have had with other innovators, and from what I have read. The book is a collection of a dozen essays. Many of them can be read as independent pieces, but I think they are best read together, and in the order presented.

I see no reason why innovation should not be more widely understood. To that end I have written these essays as plainly as I could. The essays address why we innovate, what innovation really means to us as humans, and the social roots of why we seem to be compelled to invent and innovate.