Interpretive Innovation

Amidst mounting concern over the loss of jobs to low-wage economies, one fact is not in dispute: America’s prosperity hinges on the ability of its businesses to keep introducing new products and services.

The IPC research on innovation covers a broad range of dynamic sectors, from wireless telephony to medical devices to fashion apparel. Our examination of innovation strategies in these diverse business sectors has revealed two fundamental processes. One, analysis, or rational problem solving, dominates management and engineering practice. The other, interpretation, is not widely understood, or even recognized. Unlike problem solving, interpretation embraces and exploits ambiguity, the wellspring of creativity in the economy.

Our research shows how innovative companies have managed to balance the insistent demands of problem solving with the vital but underappreciated interpretive processes needed to sustain creative output. Our research is also providing insights on the importance of cultivating ‘public spaces’ for interpretation to the innovative performance of national economies in the large.