The Innovation Superhighway, Debra M. Amidon, 2003..
I came to this book expecting to read about how to build innovation into my business or enterprise. I was disappointed to find that its goals were much loftier and therefore disconnected from my interests. It didn't help that there are a number of editorial mistakes, and an astonishing number of acronyms for the hundreds of organizations with which Amidon works.
This quote from the final chapter highlights Debra Amidon's aims with this book: Create a global network of people, business and governments with the goal of improving the lot in life of the entire planet. It is a tall order, and there is a long line of quoted practitioners and administrators who have been added to the Entovation 100.
The United Nations was created to maintain political stability around the world. The World Bank and the IMF were created after World War II to ensure the movement of financial capital. Today, we need a similar infrastructure for the worldwide flow of intellectual capital. If knowledge is the modern asset -- the most precious resource -- of the twenty-first century, we have a premise behind the need to create The Innovation Superhighway for the world trade of ideas.
Clearly, Amidon believes strongly in the power of knowledge and innovation to save the world from itself. Maybe I am too cynical, but this approach doesn't work for me. From my perspective, I found that the book offered very little nuts-and-bolts advice as to how to implement knowledge management and innovation ideas. What it does offer are the interesting components of Amidon's extensive writing and thinking on these topics.
One of the repeated mantras through the book is the concern that organizations spend far too much time looking backwards (accounting, reporting), and very little time planning for the future and carefully considering the direction they want to take. Following the discussion of the book, the solution seems to be to develop innovation networks that pull people from within and without the organization. But Amidon quickly moves from the isolated business to the desire to tie these networks together to create collaborative solutions that benefit all the stakeholders. Lofty aims, indeed.