Right Person, Right Place

Inventing and implementing new ideas require different networks

1 min read
photo of Elvis Presley
Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

Singer Elvis Presley and 18th-century potter Josiah Wedgwood are rarely mentioned in the same breath. But network science—the study of connectedness—is a world of strange bedfellows: Researchers mapping out a theory of how innovation happens have identified a key similarity between these men.

According to an analysis of network studies by John Steen of the University of Queensland, Australia, and Sam MacAulay of Imperial College London, major advances occur in two distinct phases. First, there’s the idea phase—the “Eureka!” moment. Second, there’s the implementation phase, when the revolutionary idea is packaged for the world at large. Each phase requires a different type of social network, and so the best people for the first phase are rarely well placed to pull off the second as well—except in rare cases, such as with Presley and Wedgwood.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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