Public Lecture Series: Emeritus Professor Deborah Dougherty
Developing new drugs for unmet medical needs such as Alzheimer’s, cancers, or PTSD requires innovating across a complex eco-system, where knowledge for innovation emerges unpredictably. Innovators must take advantage of emergence by grabbing up fragmented, dispersed, and noisy information. But how can so many scientists, managers, public officials, and entrepreneurs take advantage of emerging knowledge for innovation? This talk details how.
First, innovators use a discovery style of learning based on abductive reasoning, because reductive, confirmatory reasoning cannot work. I illustrate how scientists treat fragmented, noisy information as clues, configure clues into potential solutions for concrete problems in the innovation journey, use these configurations to learn what might work and what else seems relevant, and reframe their understandings over time to accumulate emerging insights into better solutions.
Second, innovators recognize distinct problems of innovation in the eco-system. Unless each of these problems is continually set and solved in tandem, innovation collapses. I illustrate how to disentangle eco-system innovation into project, knowledge system, strategic, and governance sub-systems of problem setting and solving, and how each uses abductive reasoning.
The talk is based on the presenter’s recently published book: Dougherty, D. 2016. Taking Advantage of Emergence: Productively Innovating in Complex Innovation Systems. Oxford University Press.