Among the value-added activities of HR is combining talent to maximize innovation.
Innovation comes about in two ways: creation of new technologies and recombining existing technologies. The US Patent Office’s Handbook of Classifications illustrates this point. The Patent Classification system includes classes and subclasses; the former contains creation of new technologies, while the later combines varying processes with different structural and functional features of existing technologies.
When new technology is invented, the USPTO issues a new single classification code. However, the majority of issued patents are not granted on the basis of new discoveries, but on recombining existing discoveries. Instead of a new single code, a new recombination of class and subclass codes is issued.
In the 19th century, half the patents were for single code inventions – new discoveries. In the 21st century, over 90% of patents are for inventions combining two or more codes – recombination.
Today’s innovations combine existing technologies in new ways by people who see new interactions in previously made discoveries. When Edison created the light bulb, we already had filaments, electricity and glass to create vacuums. It was Edison’s patentable recombination of previously discovered technologies that created the lightbulb.
Figuring out how to recruit and incentivize talent responsible for each subcomponent across a startup’s value chain is what avant-garde HR professionals do before placing the right talent into optimal combinations.
By the time Tal Givoly created Medivizor, he had the sum total of medical science and the computer science of algorithms at his disposal. By recombining discoveries of these two broad disciplines across the apparatus of the internet, he created innovations with huge social gains for society supported by a sustainable business model.
Vincent Suppa works with startups and investors and teaches graduate courses at New York University. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Vincent Suppa 2015