The solitary genius, closeted in a lab or garage, creating the next big thing is largely a myth. Important innovation almost always builds upon what came before it. The automobile would not exist if the horse-drawn carriage had not been invented first. We would not be using laser pointers now if early humans had not fashioned torches in experiments with fire.
The most important example of innovation through knowledge sharing today is the open source software movement. Developers are posting code in online communities across the globe, learning from one another and building on each other’s advances. Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also the best form of innovation.
Talk of the cloud has stirred up a lot of excitement. A 2011 mandate from the government CIO to move toward a cloud-first strategy has managers hoping that public cloud solutions will provide a quick fix to sticky technology challenges and messy business processes.
To some extent the hype is real. The cloud is transforming how organizations use and manage technology. As cloud adoption becomes more prevalent, government organizations that resist its charms risk missing opportunities to enhance the services they deliver.