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The Australian Defence Force lives in an operational and technological environment that is constantly changing and evolving. The only way to adapt to this relentless change is to innovate – to develop and adopt now processes, practices and procedures and new equipment. Sometimes you need to adapt quickly, and that requires an organisation and leadership who are flexible, forward-looking, not prisoners of history or tradition and who are agile enough to move quickly when a new threat, or opportunity, presents itself.


‘Innovation’ is the name we give to something that successful individuals and organisations have been doing for millennia, often without realising they are doing it.

Innovation is not a black art. It’s not the exclusive domain of ‘creatives’, ‘boffins’ or consultants. Innovation begins with understanding your business and doing simple things right.

Innovation is all about Change. It makes Change possible, either by solving somebody’s problem or by creating an opportunity to do something that they couldn’t do before.

The term ‘Innovation’ is used widely, and often incorrectly. It is not the same as ‘Invention’; nor is it a synonym for ‘Commercialisation’.

The simplest definition of innovation comes from the late Everett Rogers who argues in his standard text Diffusion of Innovations (Rogers 2003) that an innovation is something that is new in its context, not necessarily an entirely new invention or discovery.

I’d like to add my own definition of innovation: it is a new product, process or service that either changes your circumstances or enables you to change your behaviour (in practice changing the first almost invariably leads to a change in the second).

For the record, the OECD’s definition resonates with these: “An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.”

The ADF’s procedures, policies and organisational structures, and therefore its institutional behaviour, are constantly evolving (albeit slowly), but the ADF and Defence more broadly are often challenged when responding to technical change. As technology evolves equipment becomes obsolete: it must be replaced or upgraded. This is the job of industry, which innovates in its turn to produce the new or enhanced equipment and services that help provide the ADF’s combat edge.

But industry also needs to collaborate with the research community – the universities, CRCs and DST Group – in order to identify and develop the technologies the defence customer will need in the future. It also needs to understand how the innovation process works in the defence market if it is to improve its chances of success.

And the ADF and Department of Defence also need a mature understanding of technology – what it can deliver, how it is developed and sustained, and how to procure and apply it – if they are to harness it efficiently.

So Rumour Control is a portal through which I can offer advice and analysis of the innovation challenges facing Defence, industry and their partners in the research community.

This page contains links to papers and web sites that explore the mysteries of innovation in a high-technology industrial market. The page will be updated from time to time and will undoubtedly evolve; I hope it is useful to the innovator and researcher alike.


Links and Downloads

This is a list of links to websites and information sources that I have found useful.

Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) – this is the web site of the organisation set up jointly by the Australian Departments of Defence and Industry, Innovation and Science to act as a portal for defence innovators in Australia

Defence Science and Technology Group (DST)  – this is the web site of Australia’s dedicated defence research agency, an organic part of the department of Defence.

Defence Science Institute (DSI)  – The DSI was set up by DST Group and the Victorian State Government to actively engage the Australian science and technology community, build defence science research networks and assemble multi-disciplinary teams including Defence scientists and engineers and researchers from industry and the academic community.

University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit  – web site of the University department in the UK where the late Roy Rothwell (see Reading List below) did some of his most influential research.

Stage-Gate International – this is the web site of Robert Cooper (again, see below), who has made a life’s work from analysing innovation success.

Eric von Hippel’s Home Page – Eric Von Hippel is the Professor of Technological Innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the USA. He is also the man who identified the Customer-Active Paradigm(CAP), which is one of the dominant forces shaping innovation outcomes in the defence industry. Once again, see below.

Reading List

This is a short list of articles and publications on innovation that I have found extremely helpful in my research. You’ll need to hunt them down (and pay for them, probably) yourself.

Cooper, R. G. (1980). “Project NewProd: Factors in New Product Success.” European Journal of Marketing 14(5/6): 277-292.

Cooper, R. G. (1984). “The Performance Impact of Product Innovation Strategies.” European Journal of Marketing 18(5): 5-53.

Ferguson, G. M. (2012). Product Innovation Sucess in the Australian Defence Industry – an Exploratory Study. Doctor of Philosophy, University of Adelaide.

Henard, D. H. and D. M. Szymanski (2001). “Why Some New products Are More Successful Than Others.” Journal of Marketing Research 38(3): 362-375.

Johne, A. and P. Snelson (1990). “Successful Product Innovation in UK and US Firms.” European Journal of Marketing 24(12): 7-21.

Montoya-Weiss, M. M. and R. Calantone (1994). “Determinants of New Product Performance: A Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Product Innovation Management 11: 397-417.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations, Fifth Edition. New York, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Rothwell, R. (1985). “Project Sappho: a comparative study of success and failure in industrial innovation.” Information Age 7(4): 215-219.

Rothwell, R., C. Freeman, et al. (1974). “SAPPHO updated – Project SAPPHO phase II.” Research Policy 3: 258-291.

Tishler, A., D. Dvir, et al. (1996). “Identifying Critical Success Factors in Defense Development Projects: A Multivariate Analysis.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change (51 (1996)): 151-171.

Von Hippel, E. (1976). “The dominant role of users in the scientific instrument innovation process.” Research Policy 5(1976): 212-239.

Von Hippel, E. (1978). “Successful Industrial Products from Customer Ideas.” Journal of Marketing(January 1978): 39-49.


Imber, Dr Amantha (2016). “The Innovation Formula: the 14 science-based keys for creating a culture where innovation thrives”. John Wiley & Sons, Melbourne.

Rothwell, Roy., and Walter Zegfeld (1982). “Innovation and the Small and Medium Sized Firm”. Frances Pinter (Publishers) Limited, London.

Johnson, Steven (2010): “Where Good Ideas Come From”. Allen Lane, Penguin Group (USA), New York.

Furr, Nathan, and Jeff Dyer (2014): The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the lean startup into your organization”. Harvard Business Review Press, Boston

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