Class 3 - The Organization of Innovation Systems at the Face-to-Face Level

Session Overview


Students will take from this discussion class an understanding of how people- and team-driven, as opposed to institution-driven, the innovation stage is, and of the rule sets that appear to influence innovation success.


Class Three will be more informal and more student-led. We will note that although innovation systems function at the institutional level in the public and private sectors, as discussed in Class Two, they also must function at the personal, face-to-face level. The class will review a series of breakthrough innovations and look at the R&D teams that assembled them, discussing the organizational rule sets that appear to be common to these great innovation groups. The focus groups include Edison, "Invention Factory", Oppenheimer and Los Alamos, Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley at Bell Labs, Boyer and Swanson founding Genetech, Venter and the genome project, and Robert Taylor and Xerox Parc. The session will close with a review of lessons from a "great group" at DEC, where the founding innovation culture failed as the firm transitioned to a major corporation.

Lecture Notes

The Organization of Innovation at the Personal, Face-To-Face Level (PDF)


Required Reading

Buy at Amazon Bennis, Warren, and Patricia Ward Biederman. Organizing Genius, The Secrets of Creative Collaborative. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1998, pp. 63-86, 196-208. ISBN: 9780201339895. [Preview with Google Books]

Other Readings for Class Discussions

Buy at Amazon Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention. New York, NY: Random House, 2010, pp. 35-39, 115-134. ISBN: 9781400067053. [Preview with Google Books]

Buy at Amazon Evans, Harold. They Made America – From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of American Innovators. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company, 2004, pp. 152-171, 420-231. ISBN: 9780316277662.

Buy at Amazon Bird, Kai, and Martin J. Sherwin. American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, pp. 205-228, 255-259, 268-285, and 293-297. ISBN: 9780375412028. [Preview with Google Books]

Buy at Amazon Hoddeson, Lillian, and Vicki Daitch. True Genius – The Life and Science of John Bardeen. Washington, DC: 2002, pp. 115-154. ISBN: 9780309095112.

Morrow, Daniel S., and Dr. J. Craig Venter. Oral History. Video interview transcript. ComputerWorld Honors Program, 2003, pp. 3-53, 56-58.

Buy at Amazon Schein, Edgar. DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, 2004, pp. 123-169. ISBN: 9781576753057. [Preview with Google Books]