Scaled Innovation


Tracking Back Explore this site if you're interested in scaling up collaboration and innovation, or in the analysis and graphic presentation of complex datasets.


The Long Tail of Innovation

Mr Darcy

In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson noted how internet technology, by reducing transaction costs nearly to zero, forever changed book and music retailing by making it feasible to offer a "long tail" of valuable content.

In direct analogy, we have observed strong and consistent behavior patterns in scaled-up collaboration systems that span companies and industries. There is a very strong Long Tail of innovation that has direct consequences for strategy and expectations. This is one of the topics in my experience and research that you can read about here.

Why the dog?The Economist once noted that the only way to sell business books in the U.S. is to include a number or animal on the cover. My own experience is that this actually works: people remember the dog. Besides, Mr. Darcy the Labrador is short, dark, and handsome -- and has a long tail.

Analysis and Graphics

social mapping

This is a dendrogram showing "who's talking to whom" in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Everything (the text analysis, the math, the graphics) is done in a second, entirely client-side in Javascript. Fast computers and modern browers make it feasible to do some serious analytics and graphics locally: grab the data from the server but do the number-crunching and graphics in your browser.

Check out the examples here. We have tag clouds, Venn diagrams, ribbon diagrams, dendrograms, treemaps, and more.

Where it all comes together

Yes, the management and strategy of innovation and the Javascript analytics are connected. First, they're connected by my interest and experience with each. More seriously, they're connected because you need both to succeed in scaling up 21st century collaboration: a great web architecture can manage all the details and communication, and proven business processes are essential to avoid the many common pitfalls that plague the naive innovation facilitator.

I created and ran the "Idea Farm" at Pfizer from 2005-2010, a large-scale problem solving and collaboration platform. Two decades as scientist, manager, and executive gave me the domain knowledge, business process experience, and a network of trust that I needed. But I was surprised that despite a powerful toolkit in our chosen platform (Idea Central® from Imaginatik), serious business can have a detail and complexity that benefits from one-off customization. Thus I dove into Javascript/CSS/DHTML to support my customers.

collaboration at scale
Managing collaborative problem solving at scale is a huge topic; start here by browsing dozens of presentations, interviews, and publications, listed here in chronological order with brief descriptions. The themes you'll find are
analysis and graphics
The common themes here are So here's the goods:
about this site
This is my personal website where I'm happy to share two of my passions: scaled-up innovation and data representation. Both have been important in my first career as scientist and manager at Syntex and Pfizer in the pharmaceutical industry, but they have application far beyond drug discovery which is why they're at the core of my next career in Imaginatik.

Look through the site, take what you wish (with attribution and respect for copyrights please), and if you want to begin a conversation, don't hesitate to contact me. Anything here that was produced while I was employed has been cleared for distribution by that employer. I'm open to conversations and collaboration along the topics you see here; I'll be straightforward about conflicts of interest and so non-competing contacts make most sense. Possibilities include consulting on innovation processes, quantitative information displays, and more. You can also find a traditional resumé here.

Rob Spencer