In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal for an information management system to his boss, Mike Sendall. ‘Vague, but exciting’, were the words that Sendall wrote on the proposal (available to see here), allowing Berners-Lee to continue to develop and invent the web, and subsequently spawn the internet revolution that we are still very much in the midst of.
I think this is amusing but also an important comment in the context of managing innovation. Namely Mike Sendall had the vision and scope to allow him to continue to develop ideas that were ‘vague’ but have subsequently led to an almost unquantifiable amount of economic and social value. In a world overly obsessed with productivity (which I’ve talked about previously here), how would this be allowed to happen in most organisations today?
Many thanks to James made me aware of the Vague but Exciting quote in the first place.
On a related point, I’m very excited that we have Tim Berners-Lee speaking via live link up at our innovation edge conference in a couple of weeks. Recently voted (here) the most influential figure in the world of technology over the last 150 years, he claims (in this BBC article) that "the web is still in its infancy". I’m very much looking forward to hearing from him what his hopes and fears are for the web’s teenage years and adulthood?