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Innovation Management: The Value of Seeing What You Have

If your job is to get your company, team, or community to innovate, you know how organizational forces can make it hard to even try something new. Visualizing the resources available is an effective first step in overcoming some of those organizational forces. Simply being able to see, and show, what you have allows you to make a compelling case for marshaling resources and even spark some initial interactions in that direction.

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If every ‘new’ idea is derivative, derive them.

Everything is derivative. Take advantage of that. “New” ideas are the next step in an extensive network of existing people and ideas. If we can get the data and reconstruct the network, we can analyze it and understand where branches of a network have the potential for innovation.

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How Software Can Augment Human Collaboration

Innovation requires collaboration, but collaboration is stuck in a rut. Data science can help us climb out. It can increase the scale, the intentionality, and the nuance of how we collaborate. With the right data and algorithms, we can set our teams up to do something innovative.

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Using Science to Build a Dynamic Collaboration Engine

“Good ideas are getting harder to find,” Exaptive CEO Dave King quotes a recent paper by MIT and Stanford researchers. He points to the skyrocketing number of researchers employed in the U.S. and contrasts it with the inverse slope on a chart monitoring efficiency of researchers along the same timeline. “Those growing number of researchers are failing to produce value that outpaces what we’re spending to innovate.”

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Modern Research: Faster Is Different

Faster is different. It sounds strange at first because we expect faster to be better. We expect faster to be more. If we can analyze data faster, we can analyze more data. If we can network faster, we can network with more people. Faster is more, which is better, but more is different.

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Owning the full-stack: A homesteading analogy on software, innovation, and freedom

Have you ever met a homesteader who owns a mansion? Me either. My neighbor, Bill (80), is a homesteader who tries to be as self sufficient as possible. From what I can see, it’s an immensely rewarding and humble existence. Life-satisfaction oozes out of his every pore and, eventually, even enduring the hardships must have become rewarding to him.

He was wearing an interesting smile when he told me that for 20 years the only inputs to the property were paper goods (read as: toilet paper) and that they don’t have any source of heat other than wood, which he cuts off his own property. Homesteading is immensely hard and it’s not for everyone. Homesteaders don’t have the time to live a life of luxury because homesteading means you have to own all the problems of life. The problems of food and shelter, and producing enough value to trade for things you can’t produce yourself. I think this is similar to how a full stack developer has to own the problems of the whole stack.

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Cognitive What?! Explaining How to Assemble a Team for Collaboration

So many fantastic quotes are attributed to Albert Einstein. If you hear our CEO Dave King speak, he may bring up his favorite: “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” To have an aha moment, we have to play with a challenge from a variety of perspectives. We have to build collaborative teams to tackle complex problems.

Figuring out how to build the team with the greatest chance for success can be complicated. Ideal innovation partners may be isolated geographically, in different time zones, or just not aware of the skills their coworkers can bring to a project. At Exaptive, our main goal is to facilitate innovation. We use sophisticated technology to help groups assemble research teams for collaboration, and we've found we can demonstrate the concept on paper. Cue the choir as the gates open to Exaptive’s Cognitive City!

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Moving Beyond Data Visualization to Data Applications

One thing we love doing at Exaptive – aside from creating tools that facilitate innovation – is hiring intelligent, creative, and compassionate people to fill our ranks. Frank Evans is one of our data scientists. He was invited to present at the TEDxOU event on January 26, 2018.

Frank gave a great talk about how to go beyond data visualization to data applications. The verbatim of his script is below the video. Learn more about how to build data applications here

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Epiphanies on Abstraction, Modularity, and Being Combinatorial

Six months ago I didn't understand the concept of abstraction. Now it comes up almost daily. It’s foundational to my thinking on everything from software to entrepreneurship. I can’t believe how simple it seems. When I finally grokked abstraction, it felt like my first taste of basic economics. Given a new framework, something that had always been there, intuited but blurry, came into focus.

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Einstellung Effect: What You Already Know Can Hurt You

The Einstellung effect is a psychological phenomenon that changes the way we all come to solutions and impedes innovation.

(Image Source: http://victoriousvocabulary.tumblr.com/post/15446374280/einstellung-noun-the-einstellung-effect-is-the)

Every day we solve problems - from choosing the quickest way to work, to how we’re going to fix a problem for that one client. How do we know if our solutions are any good? What if there is a much better solution that we haven’t thought of yet?

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The True Meaning of Catalyst, Crescendo, and Adaptation

People sometimes ask me what our company’s name means and why we chose it. The explanation often leads to discussions about similar but different terms. So I thought I’d use this blog post to explain, hopefully illuminate and while I’m at it, to correct some usage that’s bugged me for some time. Actually, let’s start right there.

I'm not sure where accuracy becomes pedantry, but there are two words - catalyst and crescendo - that instantly make my ears prick up when I hear them, only because I've heard them used incorrectly for long. One is from science and one from music, two things I tend to obsess about.

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Cowboys and Inventors: The Myth of the Lone Genius

I recently moved from Boston to Oklahoma City. My wife got offered a tenure-track position at the University of Oklahoma, which was too good an opportunity for her career for us to pass up. Prior to the move, I had done a lot of traveling in the US, but almost exclusively on the coasts, so I didn't know what living in the southern Midwest would bring, and I was a bit trepidatious. It has turned out to be a fantastic move. There is a thriving high-tech startup culture here. I've been able to hire some great talent out of the University, and we're now planning to build up a big Exaptive home office here. Even more important, I was delighted to find a state that was extremely focused on fostering creativity and innovation. In fact, the World Creativity Forum is being hosted here this week, and I was asked to give a talk about innovation. As I thought about what I wanted to say, I found myself thinking about . . . cowboys.

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We work on Technology. Then it works on us.

I think I was 10 years old when my dad brought home our first microwave oven. It was an imposing black box that weighed a ton and had scary warning labels that mentioned radiation. The only time I had ever heard mention of radiation before was in regard to the atom bomb. We felt like we were supposed to run for cover whenever we turned it on, but, like everyone else I knew who had one, we did just the opposite. We huddled around it. We brought our noses right up to the translucent window, and watched, mesmerized in wonder, as the food inside got zapped by mysterious, limitless, invisible energy. When the timer beeped, and the door opened to reveal a steaming bowl of soup that had been cold only a minute ago, it seemed like a miracle. I remember those early days with the microwave vividly – experimenting with eggs, and chocolate syrup, and the off-limits gold-rimmed fine china that would send off an awe-inspiring barrage of orange sparks after just 15 seconds. Just 15 seconds! 15! I think that was the most important thing of all about the microwave oven – not what it did to my food, but what it did to my sense of time.

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