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Grady Booch on Innovation

by Roberto V. Zicari on January 8, 2008

Happy New Year!

One of the main driving force which influenced the introduction of new generation database systems, such as ODBMS, was Object Oriented Programming (OOP). For OOP a number of OO methodologies have been introduced. I had the pleasure to interview Grady Booch.
Grady Booch is IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist, Rational Software, IBM.

Grady is recognized internationally for his innovative work on software architecture and software engineering. A renowned visionary, he has devoted his life’s work to improving the effectiveness of software developers worldwide. Booch is one of the original authors of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and has served as architect and architectural mentor for numerous complex software-intensive systems around the world in just about every domain imaginable.
Grady received his bachelor of science from the United States Air Force Academy in 1977 and his master of science in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1979.

1. What is “Innovation” for you?
Innovation means creating something new, making a connection that has never been made before, discovering some underlying truth that has remained hidden. Innovation is all about thinking out of the box and destroying rigid assumptions. Innovation involves finding the simple beauty in that which is complex.

2. Who are your favorite innovators?
Edison and Feynman are at the top of my list.

3. What do you consider are the most promising innovations of the last 3 years?
In hardware, I’d say it’s the emergence of commercially viable multicore processors; in software, the growing standards for the semantic web; in society, the rise of social networking and blogging. for me personally, my exposure to NVC and the work of Marshall Rosenberg and Gail Taylor.

4. What does it help to become a successful innovator?
Three things: a manical, passionate focus, a lack of fear of failure, and a willingness to press on even when the structures and dynamics around you resist you.

5. Is there a price to pay to be an innovator? Which one?
A true innovator is often a stranger in a strange land. But then again, that’s a price only a non-innovator would care about.

6. What are the rewards to be an innovator?
The privilege of being able to create, to discover, to participate in that journey: these are the rewards that for me are sufficient unto themselves.

7. What are in your opinion the top 3 criteria for successful innovation?
I have no idea how to answer that question. There are as many paths to innovation as there are innovations themselves..

8. What would you recommend to young people who wish to pursue innovation?
The innovators I admire the most are whole people, not just sages in their own domain. So, my advice is to enjoy life, live fully – and the innovation will find you.

9. In your opinion how can we create a culture that supports and sustains innovation?
A culture that celebrates play is one that can support and sustain innovation.

10. What do you think stops/slows down innovation?
Rule-based organizations and people who view the world as in terms of absolute right and wrong are the worst inhibitors to innovation.

10+1 .Do you think becoming an innovator can be taught? If yes, how?
Yes, again by encouraging a sense of play in learning.

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Thank you for your questions…they are among the more interesting I’ve had thrown at me in a while ;-)
GB.

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