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Innovation Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:32 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Innovation






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Post #1371878
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 2:17 AM


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Absolutely, it's of prime importance to me. My core employable skill is SQL Server and that's what I do for a living, but I often have ideas on things I want to do and find myself (in my own time) haring off on a tangent to create a product, or module, or simply test something I've read about or discovered. Sometimes these 'BIMBs' (bee in my bonnet), as I call them, peter away to nothing but sometimes things turn out really well.

My recent BIMBs include:

- Coding up 'Conway's Game of Life' using VBScript, SQL Server and SVG (scalable vector graphics). This went brilliantly and worked without a flaw. I had some ideas about making a 3d version using a variation of Conway's rules, but due to slow rendering of the cuboids in my browser, I left it here.

- Web page creation for an idea I had, using purely HTML5 / CSS3 and SVG (as more of an exercise to test my skills for HTML5 coding than anything else)

- I've ordered a 'Makey Makey' (see url: www.makeymakey.com and have some exciting ideas about customising it to make my home environment more interactive.

etc, etc.


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Post #1371938
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 5:18 AM


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In my company, innovation is sort of important. Not outright important, and not totally unimportant; just sort of important.


Rod
Post #1372032
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 7:08 AM


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I work for a US Air Force organization and am pretty lucky that innovation is really important here. The technical advisor (top civilian) for our group wants to consolidate a lot of the disparate business practices throughout the group into the application that I develop. So he wants to automate where at all possible and centralize the functionality into this single enterprise-wide application as long as it makes sense. I also have a ton of freedom in developing this application. I've been here 12 years and know a lot about the functional side of what the group does, so I can balance the functional requirements with the technical solutions quite well. In fact I'm usually given some general requirements and then am off-and-running developing the functionality how I think they'll want it to work. 90%+ of the time I'm on target. This concept has allowed us to do some really cool things in a relatively short time period.


Post #1372095
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 7:15 AM
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At my previous employer innovation was actually frowned upon. As an example, under previous management we had worked towards a web based knowledge management system, with our policies, procedures, break / fix, etc, all put into a SharePoint site. With management turnover in 2009 the new standard was cutting edge 1990s technology - let's put it all in a massive MS Word document and email it to everyone when there was an update! I just left there this year....grrrr.

My current employer, though, sincerely values innovation and I'm thrilled to be here.
Post #1372102
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 7:57 AM


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Bill Gates once said "Microsoft is not about greed. It's about innovation and fairness." Coming from him, I'm not sure whether that statement is true or just hypocritcal.

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1372144
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 8:13 AM
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Hm. At my current workplace, management isn't particularly computer-savvy, which has benefits and limitations when it comes to innovation . On one hand, things tend to be a matter of "if it gets the job done, it's good enough" as far as solution design goes, so I essentially have my pick of how solutions are developed (working in an itty-bitty shop lessens the pressure there quite a bit!). This has lead to some out-of-the-box thinking, like designing a once-every-four-hour e-mail notification routine for management to know that the servers are still up and running, which then got a weather report attached to it that's called in from PowerShell (in the event that a power-failure-inducing storm is inbound; we sadly don't have much in the way of backup power), or a shipping rate calculator that utilizes C# and PowerShell to generate data for our SQL Server to ingest and do comparisons on (SQL Server is best at handling data; web API calls, procedural loops, and text formatting gets done by languages that are better at those things).

On the other hand, that same lack of computer savviness can lead to problems, too. Management often doesn't know exactly where my limits are in regards to programming, so if there's something that can't be done (like getting more information from our distributors than they can provide), it gets a little messy trying to explain the situation fully. But the good comes with the bad, as it goes.


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Post #1372159
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 8:20 AM


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Having time to innovate is a wonderful thing but what I'd really like to see is for people to actually learn the tools they're using so they don't have to spend so much time innovating a solution that's already available.

My favorite and, possibly, most outrageous example of such "innovation gone wild" is the fellow that submitted a CLR that he wanted me to install on one of our servers. It seems that he didn't know how to do a modulus in SQL Server so wrote a CLR to do it.


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Post #1372167
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 8:31 AM


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I think my company rewards good ideas, but you have to know what upper management wants in order to find your way down the right path. I've gone down a few dead end roads, but that's to be expected: risks are taken and persistence pays. You're usually also learning, even as you go down the dead end road, so it's still useful.

The hardest part about coming up with new ideas is not when you first come to a company - you're the "fresh eyes" at that point. But after you've worked at the same place for years, it becomes more of a challenge, especially when you're doing basically the same types of tasks. I've been at the same company for 6 years now, so it's tougher for me to be creative than when I first started. But of course, new tech. can help with finding better ways to work.





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Post #1372178
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 10:16 AM
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Yes, it is important. However we are business-driven not technology-driven so the business needs drive the wagon. We do try to inform the business teams about available and new technologies that they might use, but they call the shots for the most part.

And for me, as long as I have a compiler we will innovate. There is no other choice.

M



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