Yesterday my group hosted a meeting at Microsoft Reston with the ILO Institute on “Innovation in Large Organizations.” The ILO Institute always brings together great clients (FedEx, Time Warner, SAIC, IBM, US Postal Service) and yesterday was no exception, with an eclectic group from NIH, DoJ, NASA, RTI, GTSI and others. The discussion about that seeming oxymoron – innovation in large organizations – was fascinating, with lively threads about distinctions between Microsoft and Apple for example, and whether the latter is actually a technology company or a fashion company. [My opinion: its success comes from its fashion/marketing leadership, not technical advances.]
The ILO Insitute has done some interesting research on innovation best practices (for example see this study), but in particular they’re good at fostering discussions along the edge of normal thinking about an issue. I think Peter Temes, head of ILO, positively enjoyed being on Microsoft turf yesterday and challenging the MS track record by sketching comparisons with Xerox PARC. We also had a thought-provoking review of the lopsided iPod and Zune marketing competition.
But the highlight of the session was a talk by NASA’s Andy Petro, the Program Executive for Innovation Incubation, a special office in NASA’s Innovation Partnerships Program Office. The Innovation Incubator sponsors a great deal of new research and innovation, mostly with SBIR grants (they do about $150 million a year in SBIR grants, mostly in Phase I grants of $100,000 each – so it’s obvious that Petro and his colleagues act as an eagerly curious venture-oriented accelerator, sparking lots of ideas with the expectation that many will fail but a few will ignite and truly launch.
Turns out that the head of NASA’s umbrella Innovation Partnerships Program himself, Doug Comstock, is a Twitterer (@Doug_Comstock), and I quickly found several NASA twitterers including among their programs like @NASAprize, @NASA_Ames_Web, the cool @EarthVitalSigns, and mission twitfeeds like @Messenger2011, @MarsRovers (“the official mission Twitters of Spirit and Opportunity”), and my faves: @LRO_NASA and @MarsPhoenix, who sometimes tweet back and forth to one another. Why there’s even @NASAKepler, whose bio reads “I look for ET’s home.”
NASA is certainly showing some corporate interest in innovative communications practices…
Filed under: Technology Tagged: | 2.0, Andy Petro, Apple, communications, Doug Comstock, ET, GTSI, IBM, ILO, innovation, iPod, Kepler, marketing, Mars, Microsoft, NASA, NIH, PARC, Peter Temes, Postal Service, RTI, SAIC, SBIR, Technology, Time Warner, Twitter, US Postal Service, USPS, Web 2.0, Xerox, Xerox PARC, Zune