I was reading an article about innovation on ZDNET a number of months back about innovation. It was the standard argument about what innovation is … is it revolutionary or creation of something from scratch? The article had two different points of view that it presented as it related to the topic. (Unfortunately, I can't find the link to the article now.)

I think that both of them made some interesting points, but that they failed to put together what I think is a holistic view of the situation. Innovation need not always be the creation of something from scratch and need not necessarily be revolutionary … Innovation can also be using existing parts in a new way. What would be truly innovative would be to create two entirely different applications or services using 90% of the same pieces; pieces that already existed from other projects in the company or as parts of open source efforts.

If you sit back and really analyze most applications you will find that a significant portion of the effort involved with creating an application is the same effort that goes into every other application - security, data source access, presentation, transformation, reporting, etc. While each application may use these services slightly differently, the general idea is primarily the same. Think of how efficient an organization could become (and agile) if it concentrated on the 15% to 25% that truly makes applications different from one another. That would truly be innovative.

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