Innotracing: Capturing the Messiness of Innovation (2012)

Prof. Dr. Ian Sutherland / Prof. Dr. Birgit Penzenstadler / Dr. Hans Lundberg / Dr. Paul Blažek / Dr. Hagen Habicht

The phenomena of leadership, creativity and innovation in the moment are complex, non-linear, recursive, unpredictable and largely tacit. Yet in the end successful efforts converge to form meaningful and valuable new ideas, products, services, business models and more. These processes often arouse astonishment in the eyes of participants and spectators alike and we are left with the question, how does does it happen that a group of people working together come up with something so unique, new and novel?

Despite decades of study, theorization and modeling, the moment to-moment unfolding of these processes, the micro-heart of leadership, creativity and innovation, remains an unexplored black box. The “moments of significance” (MOS) – those turning and tipping points crucial to outcomes where leadership and innovation bloom or fade – remain to researchers and practitioners, invisible despite our sensing of their presence.

The InnoTrace team has set our task at developing a software tool and social science methodology to open this black box and to make the invisible moments of significance (MOS) visible. Our aim is to capture, trace & analyze the moment-to-moment messy, tacit intangible and intangible elemtns of leadership, creativity and innovation. Within the current state of the art, researchers cannot analyze such processes in order to track these moments because we are lacking a systematic approach and data gathering tool to do so. At the same time, practitioners can also not recapture these moments, neither for reconsideration of an earlier dismissed idea nor for reflecting upon and improving leadership and innovation processes.