Autodesk Labs: The Innovation Genome Project

Innovate by asking and answering seven questions.


Bill O'Connor, one of Autodesk's corporate strategists, crafts papers, speeches, visuals, and videos to support the CEO, CTO, and other members of Exec Staff in sharing Autodesk's thoughts on technology and innovation. Bill is also the creator of The Innovation Genome Project.

We all agree that innovation is important — but do we know what it is, or how to do it? The Innovation Genome Project studied 2.6 million years of innovations to look for patterns and distill innovation down to its very essence — much like what was done with DNA for the Human Genome Project.

Innovation has been a hot management topic for a long time. Inventions are based on new ideas. Innovation results from adoption of a new idea. Without adoption, a new idea is interesting, but not useful. An innovation is something new or different, successfully brought into the world, creating a significant impact. So what does it take to convert an invention into an innovation?

Inspired by how biologists were able to map the human genome, Bill was able to map innovation by studying the make-up of hundreds of innovations over mankind's history. Bill found that a simple set of seven questions were at the heart of many of these innovations, and that these questions could be applied to any project or idea to make it more innovative.

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