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You're reading: Digital Tonto: The philosophy of innovation

Mendel was a monk when he discovered genetics. The structure of DNA was cracked not by the acclaimed minds of the day, but by two young, underachieving post-grads working in relative obscurity.

Breakthrough innovations tend to pop up in funny places. Some like penicillin and teflon were accidents. Others, like the Internet, world wide web and the graphical user interface, originated in big labs, but flourished elsewhere.

What do we make of that? Why do really big ideas tend to come from small places? How do we push our organizations to innovate when it seems like organization itself often squelches innovation? The answer lies, strangely enough, not so much in organizational structure, but in organizational purpose, outlook and philosophy.

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