Wall Street Journal Innovation Awards

Today’s WSJ (Monday October 17, 2011) has a special section reporting their 2011 annual Technology Innovation Awards. From 605 applications, a panel of judges chose 35 winners and runners-up in 16 categories. 

Award winners that impressed me included:

  • IBM’s Watson computer winning at Jeopardy against two world champions (Watson won the bronze award)
  • E Ink, the company that made the “electronic paper” used in Amazon’s Kindle, has a new color version of their e-paper (it will be used in an e-reader built by Hanvon Technologies to ship later this month)
  • Abbott Laboratories has developed a stent that’s reabsorbed into the vessel once it’s no longer needed
  • Streetline Inc. developed an app for smartphones and in-car navigation systems that shows you where to find a parking spot nearby

I also like the story about what happened to award winners from years past. Many of them have been quite successful commercially, but the Tata Nano (2008 award winner) is one that hasn’t fared so well, with sales dropping.

I also enjoyed reading the story about how to be more creative by David Kelley, one of the founders of the IDEO design firm (p. R5). There’s an insert about the new book The Innovator’s DNA that interviewed 100 innovative entrepreneurs and executives to identify five key skills of innovators: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting. These are consistent with the psychological research in my field (although I would add several more to the list).

Also in today’s issue, on page B7 is a great story about how companies can foster creativity and innovation by tapping into the creativity of everyone in the company, by gathering their many ideas together in ways kind of like the traditional suggestion box, but far more sophisticated (and much more likely to get to senior management and to get implemented). This is exactly what I advocate in my 2007 book Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, as a powerful technique to harness the collaborative power of everyone in an organization.

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