<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1483239291704574&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

the hype innovation blog

John Bessant

Originally a chemical engineer, Professor John Bessant has been active in research, teaching and consultancy in technology and innovation management for over 25 years. He currently holds the Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Exeter University where he is also Research Director. In 2003, he was awarded a Fellowship with the Advanced Institute for Management Research and was also elected a Fellow of the British Academy of Management. He served on the Business and Management Panel of both the 2001 and 2008 Research Assessment Exercises. He has acted as advisor to various national governments and to international bodies including the United Nations, The World Bank and the OECD.

Professor Bessant is the author of over 20 books and monographs and many articles on the topic and has lectured and consulted widely around the world. His most recent books include Managing innovation (now in its 4th edition) and High involvement innovation (both published by John Wiley and Sons).
Find me on:

Recent Posts

What is Free Innovation?

Posted by John Bessant on Apr 20, 2017 12:56:14 PM

Kittihawk, 1903.  Wilbur and Orville Wright, up at an insanely early 5am, listening to the wind singing in the wires of their fragile aircraft.  They’ve been doing this for three years – in fact ever since they had the idea of attaching wings to the bicycles their repair business operated on.  Whatever else drove them to that lonely beach it wasn’t the prospect of making money out of selling aeroplanes – there was no aircraft industry, just a bunch of crazy enthusiasts like them.

Read More

Topics: Trends & Future Thinking

Platform Thinking: Reusing Hard-Won Knowledge

Posted by John Bessant on Mar 6, 2017 7:12:50 PM

 Watch any group of kids playing with Lego and you’ll quickly get the idea behind platform thinking. A small number of standard modular components linked to a basic architecture – and you can build almost anything! Close your eyes and very soon you’ll be enjoying yourself remembering playing with those coloured bricks, wheels and other components. And whilst you may have bought a particular model most of the pleasure comes from reassembly into new and unplanned designs.

Millions of homes have the Lego box into which children (and not a few adults as well!) dive to let their imaginations run riot. And a visit to Legoland gives you part of the same experience on a large scale. Never mind if it’s pouring with rain, just go into a large hall, dig into the huge mountains of Lego and create…. 

Read More

Topics: Strategy & Alignment

The Power of User-Led Innovations

Posted by John Bessant on Jan 10, 2017 7:31:00 AM

Babies are wonderful, a constant source of fascination as you share their discovery of a rich new world and see things afresh through their wide bright eyes.  But they also have side effects, some of which can bring you back to earth with a bump!  Dealing with nappy changing is a good example – a chore for most of us, but for a few people also an unlikely source of inspiration for innovation.

Read More

Topics: Ideation & Collaboration

Knowledge as a social process

Posted by John Bessant on Nov 5, 2016 8:11:09 PM

Walker’s Wagon Wheel tavern in the 1970s has a particularly important place in innovation history.  Its name provides a great description of its role – like spokes on a wheel people and ideas converged on its centre and on a Friday night the air was full of conversation.  Ideas flew around the place, colliding and often crashing in flames on the floor.  But some of them fused, became something bigger, began conversations which carried on over the coming weeks and grew into new businesses. Its location was also important – Mountain View, San Francisco, close to the emerging technology cluster of start-ups, big electronics firms like Fairchild Semiconductor, the sprawling campus of Stanford University….  Silicon Valley as it was to become.

Read More

Topics: People & Culture

Creating the Physical Space for Innovation

Posted by John Bessant on Sep 7, 2016 5:00:00 AM

Building spaces for innovation is a hot topic these days. Whether you call them innovation hubs, maker-spaces, fab-labs, accelerators or hotspots you can hardly turn a street corner or a magazine page before you bump into another example. The names may vary but the underlying idea is the same – a place where people can meet to get inspired and supported by each other, to articulate and co-create. An environment in which ideas can be explored and played with.

Read More

Topics: People & Culture

Bridging different worlds – the power of recombinant innovation

Posted by John Bessant on Jul 12, 2016 10:06:57 PM

Wandering round Chicago in 1912 William Klann was a man on a mission. He was part of a team set up to explore ways in which they could reduce the costs of manufacturing a car to fulfil Henry Ford’s vision of ‘a motor car for the great multitude’.  They had already developed many of the ideas behind mass production – standardised and interchangeable parts, short task cycle work, specialist machinery – but what Klann saw while walking past the Swift Meat Packing Company’s factory gave him an insight into a key piece of the puzzle.  The workers were effectively dis-assembling meat carcasses, stripping off various different joints and cuts as the animals were led past them on a moving overhead conveyor.  In a classic moment of insight he saw the possibility of reversing this process – and within a short space of time the Ford factory boasted the world’s first moving assembly line.  Productivity rocketed as the new idea was implemented and refined; using the new approach Ford was able to cut the assembly time for a Model T to just 93 minutes.

Read More

Topics: People & Culture

Playing chess with the Red Queen

Posted by John Bessant on Jun 8, 2016 11:13:20 AM

This is the Red Queen, one of the famous characters in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’. And whilst she is an undoubtedly intriguing person, someone you might want to get to know better, here’s a word of advice. Don't try playing chess with her – you’ll very soon find yourself out of your depth!

There are three problems you’ll have to confront if you do decide you'd like to give it a go. First, she keeps changing the rules, arbitrarily making them up as she goes along. Second, she keeps changing the game – you might think you are playing chess but might suddenly decide to switch it to football or horse racing! And, as if these are not enough, she also lives in a world where this kind of behaviour is perfectly normal!

Read More

Topics: Disruption & Transformation

The value of failure in innovation

Posted by John Bessant on May 12, 2016 10:31:49 PM

Accidents will happen – and as far as innovation is concerned, that’s a good thing. Whilst much of our attention is on the focused efforts to bring new ideas to market or to effect process changes in systematic, planned and strategically targeted fashion, there are some times when Fate takes a hand. What might appear to be a failed experiment or a strange but ultimately useless outcome can sometimes turn out to be the basis of a game-changing innovation. Think about these examples …

Read More

Topics: People & Culture

Subscribe to the Blog

Subscribe to the Blog
Business Innovation Brief