The Architecture of Innovation

Josh Lerner

Published by

OUP/ Harvard Business Press

ISBN

9780199639892

RRP

£18.99

Reviewed by

Jude Umeh FBCS CITP

Score

7 out of 10

Given this title, one might be forgiven for expecting a book about innovative business architectures, with perhaps an in-depth look at real business model innovation, or the evolution of creative / innovative organisations, but instead it just provides a treatise and history lesson on (mostly American) corporate innovation and venture capitalism.

I felt the title was a little misleading, and perhaps intentionally geared towards boosting sales, but it only detracts from the overall experience - at least for this reviewer.

That said, the book does provide good coverage of a highly relevant topic, and it presents a hybrid approach that combines the best of corporate and venture capital backed innovation into something that many organisations and their investors will benefit from reading.

Author Josh Learner is a top professor at Harvard Business School, and a leading authority, with several books published on innovation, including the well-known Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

The style and organisation of the book is great, with plenty of well researched and well-argued points supported by loads of evidence, quotes and anecdotes - as perhaps should be expected from someone with such a high profile. However, this may have also lent it a dry and almost academic language style, which sometimes gets in the way of even the more compelling stories / examples cited within the book.

Key nuggets and highlights include the history of modern corporate innovation (spanning de-centralised to centralised initiatives and back again), plus the rise of venture funding and the perfect storm of people, place and time that is Silicon Valley, the Mecca for innovation and funding.

It also describes key lessons learnt along the way for both corporate and venture-backed innovation and makes these the basis for a hybrid approach that delivers on the benefits of both whilst minimising the downsides. In my opinion, this alone makes it worthwhile reading.

In conclusion, although I would recommend this book for students of corporate and venture-based innovation, it is not a particularly passionate, engaging or inspiring effort, and you might do well to disregard the ‘architecture of innovation’ in the title.

Further information:OUP/
Harvard Business Press

July 2013