Cover: Innovation—The Missing Dimension, from Harvard University PressCover: Innovation—The Missing Dimension in PAPERBACK

Innovation—The Missing Dimension

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674019942

Publication Date: 04/15/2006

Academic Trade

240 pages

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While innovation is typically seen as a single process, Lester and Piore break it into two parts: problem solving and interpretation. Companies focus constantly on the former, which tends to be a rational step-by-step process. If they talk about the latter at all, it is under the guise of ‘listening to the customer,’ a less well-defined discipline. Much of the book is devoted to case studies of product development in fields ranging from cell phones to medical equipment to blue jeans.—Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe

This is an interesting and stimulating book. It argues that innovation studies have so far neglected an important dimension of the innovative process, which the authors call the interpretive dimension. This refers to managers’ capability of bringing together people of different backgrounds (e.g., engineers, product designers, advanced users), engage them in constructive discussions about new products, manage the confusion and ambiguity that may inevitably arise in the interactions between heterogenous agents, interpret such ambiguity, and eventually point to new technological trajectories that the innovative process should lead to… Richard Lester and Michael Piore develop this interesting argument by describing the results of three case studies on innovation and product design in rather different industries… The basic argument developed in this book is original, and it challenges the dominant perspective on innovation management and policy.—Fulvio Castellacci, Journal of Economic Issues

From 1994 to 2002, almost in parallel with the Internet-led boom in the U.S. economy, researchers at the Industrial Performance Center at MIT developed a series of case studies of technology-oriented companies. These studies allowed the authors of the current book to identify common patterns in the innovation process. What the authors found was startlingly simple: innovation was a function of two basic processes—analysis and interpretation. While there are numerous books on the topic of innovation, this volume’s real value is its exposition of the two processes and the illustration of these processes through exhaustive case studies… Innovation is absolutely critical to the economic well-being of the U.S. and is the only bulwark against the migration of jobs overseas. The authors make these points tellingly, using persuasive arguments that illustrate the innovation processes in organizations.—R. Subramanian, Choice

Finally, a book that blows past the one-size-fits-all answers of politicians and business pundits. Innovation—The Missing Dimension sets the standard for understanding how to compete in a global economy.—Bob Buderi, Editor at Large, Technology Review, and author of Engines of Tomorrow

This book brings new insight into innovation—where it begins and how it can be introduced and managed. The authors’ original and thought-provoking prescriptions reach far beyond the world of business. They explain how education must demonstrate and play a major role in innovation.—Governor Gaston Caperton, President, The College Board

Innovation—The Missing Dimension does have a central focus, but it is such a broad-ranging coverage of the important subject of innovation that it actually adds many dimensions to the reader’s thinking. A worthwhile experience.—Robert W. Galvin, Former CEO, Motorola

Lester and Piore tell us that a corporate focus on core competencies will not suffice to make a brand irreplaceable and thus earn a ticket to prolonged life. Indeed great brands don’t just fall from the sky, they have to be built through the carefully assembled blocks of innovation. The authors lead us to the conclusion that you have to go beyond just listening to the customer, you have to observe them and anticipate what they themselves never imagined they would want.—Patrick le Quément, Chief Designer, Renault

It is pretty clear that the future of a leading-edge economy now rests on its capacity to innovate. It is not at all clear what institutions and practices particularly favor innovation. Building on a few closely observed case studies, Lester and Piore arrive at some interesting, plausible and, well, innovative ideas about the way new products and processes come into existence and sometimes flourish. Their ideas have novel and significant implications for teaching, management and governance.—Robert M. Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economics

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