My passion for the way that technology changes the world around us began in the early 1980s when I joined a national study team evaluating urban technology uses by municipal governments. This was followed by another national level project aimed at the agricultural extension service and the way that technology was changing agriculture production. In the past 25 years, my interest in technology has morphed into a passion for innovation and seeing “over the horizon” to better understand what is needed.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding companies from small medical device and environmental companies to large scale giants like Boeing, Intel, CSC and others. Throughout my career, I’ve taught workshops, participated in brainstorming sessions and provided leadership to new product development efforts. I like the hands-on approach that intensive consulting provides. The best engagements are the ones where the role of facilitator and collaborator are intertwined. There is no better feeling than helping a team create the seed of an idea and then develop the framework and ecosystem to achieve success in the marketplace.
I am also on the faculty in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State where I routinely encounter several hundred students a year. These students keep me grounded in the fundamental changes that are happening in social networking and computing and in the evolving nature of the user experience. These insights routinely add value to my consulting engagements as I’m always on the “front line” so to speak with these new users. I find them thoroughly engaging and am humbled by the tremendous differences I see in their perceptions and those of more mature users – such as myself! Their insights, in turn, provide additional insights into the future.
To stay current, also requires that I conduct academic research projects to test theories and I am actively engaged in advising Ph.D. students in IST and Engineering. Recent projects have included social media in the enterprise, emergent innovation, design rules for medical devices, and the use of RFID in retail supply chains.
We often portray innovation as resulting from a “spark,” but that is far from the reality. True game changing innovations evolve through the interactions of many different people and they spawn new ecosystems to deliver them. This has been the focus of the last decade of my work around strategic roadmapping and collaborative innovation. During this decade the single biggest change has been the source of uncertainty surrounding innovation. Whereas it used to be that technology uncertainty was the challenge, now I believe that the real challenge lies in the different ways that users will expect to experience products and services in the future.