I often get asked (by clients, book readers, audiences where I present) about the top 2-3 sources I would recommend for innovation ideas. And I will usually rattle off 2-3 sites or authors I respect. I usually do it with a smile because I really should list 50-60.
I recently sat down to analyze sources of the 2,500 posts on the New Florence blog over the last 7 years, which in turn often become inspiration for longer book case studies. I looked at the sources relative to the effort each takes to mine, and the results may surprise you:
“Old faithful” Websites/Blogs
A few minutes a week scanning a handful of websites – MIT Technology Review, Popular Science, InformationWeek’s Global CIO page, BusinessWeek, Wired, NY Times, Smart Planet and a few others guarantee me several posts a month.
An hour a month at Barnes and Noble perusing a handful of magazines, and few minutes scanning magazines which come in the mail like Fortune, Time, Discover and others is a surprisingly rich source of innovation stories. I chuckle when I read traditional media is dead. Really?
Over the years I have used events which repeat – the Indy 500, the Academy Awards, St. Patrick’s Day – to research and post annually on how the events evolve with technology
I am blessed to work with clients on “edgy” projects. The work introduces me to disruptive technologies, vendors, business models which I try to generalize without violating my non-disclosures. The projects often take me to innovative places around the world and meetings at amazing campuses which inspire their own posts.
Friends like Frank Scavo, Dennis Howlett, Thomas Otter and others will often ping me with innovations they have come across. That has been a nice, filtered source over the years.
“Go to” executives
I have a list of contacts I try and meet or call at least once a year. These include Ray Lane at Kleiner, Phiroz Darukhanavala, CTO at BP, Zach Nelson who is CEO of NetSuite and a few others. They get to see so much at work and in their travels that an hour or two with them has a very high innovation payback quotient.
Events take several days out of your schedule so I am picky about ones I go to. But new (to me) events, a good slate of speakers, an interesting venue all help. This year, for example, Inforum at Denver Art Museum, HP Discover’s event aesthetics and its wide range of products on display gave me plenty of blog fodder.
This is a funny one. I have cataloged many a “social enterprise”. I have posted on Facebook’s data centers, Twitter’s scale, Zynga’s clouds. In general, though, the innovation quotient from the content on Twitter, in particular is somewhat low. Much of it is condensed press releases or regurgitation of executive quotes from industry events or pointers to articles I have already read . There are folks like Paul Kedrosky, John Hagel, Guy Kawasaki and Brad Feld who typically have something interesting to share, but there is also plenty of noise.
Vendor PR news takes a lot of time to scan and generally yields very few innovation posts. Less than 10 of the hundreds of (unsolicited) emails I get each year get me curious enough to do research on the vendor or product. They would be so much better served getting noticed by one of the sources above.
I suppose some of you are surprised I did not profile Gartner’s Cool Vendors, TechCrunch, All Things D and others. I do scan them but I find their focus somewhat narrow. Gartner as narrow? Disagree with me but don’t forget my broad focus on innovation with cleantech, healthtech, biotech and a wide range of infotech.