Re-innovating at SSRN

When I look at the SSRN Community, I am excited and motivated by the challenges and possibilities in front of us.  We need to be innovative and responsive to the changing needs of our community, but have to deal with the harsh realities of a terrible economy and limited development resources. However, I hope we use these challenges to become more innovative. My simple definition of innovation is the creation of new things by being exposed to a broader and deeper set of existing things.  Innovation is critical to SSRN’s future.  In fact, we need to be innovative about being innovative.

Tom Koulopoulos’ new book, The Innovation Zone discusses re-innovating innovation and provides “Seven Lessons of Innovation.”  Koulopoulos states the basic tenet that we all need to understand, “Invention is NOT innovation.  Innovation creates value.  Invention just creates more stuff.”  Innovating often sounds hard or based on luck, but Koulopoulos says it is achievable with some basic building blocks.

One of the challenges we currently face is providing personalization to our users. We would like to develop SSRN so that each user can obtain the content they want in a way they want. However, personalization is difficult with the broad spectrum of users we serve – from non-academics and undergraduates to some of the smartest scholars in the world, including several Nobel Laureates.  Add to this the diverse technological capabilities of our users, and the challenge of personalization becomes even greater. However, Koulopoulos views personalization as an opportunity for innovation (and I think a great opportunity for SSRN):

“Personalization is where innovation takes on a new dimension that simply has no parallel in today’s market. We may talk about ‘markets of one’ but we’ve hardly delivered on the vision. When we do, innovation will finally be driven by the market.” (Excerpt: ‘The Innovation Zone’)

We discuss innovation a lot at SSRN and I believe that we are a pretty innovative company.  Unfortunately, we will need to be extremely innovative to be successful.  Several copies of The Innovation Zone just arrived from Amazon for our development team.  I think it will help refine our process and make SSRN better for everyone.