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The genesis and pursuit of breakthrough innovation with the Drupal ecosystem as a living-lab for R&D management

I'm pleased to announce you my latest working paper The genesis and pursuit of breakthrough innovation with the Drupal ecosystem as a living-lab for R&D management. It is based on my R&D conference paper and contains the Drupalcon interview from Copenhagen. Let me give you the abstract:

In order to use imagination as a sound R&D management method, we need laboratories and experiments to test the validity of visions. In this paper, we explore the opportunity to conduct empirical research on the design of an innovation support system. In our case, the Drupal ecosystem is seen as an emerging living-lab for R&D management. The Drupal ecosystem has an intrinsic and high-technological culture and is therefore becoming an interesting innovation medium. A case study will introduce the Drupal ecosystem and its spontaneous innovation phenomena. An experiment, based on the Drupal case, is undertaken with a course called Web Service Development for Business, which has been running two years. This course demonstrates how self-organization could become an operational method via action research: planning, acting and reflecting. In our current reflection phase, we can imagine an opportunity to study the gaps between theory-based innovation management and information technology alignment. This allows us to design the Enterprise Innovation Planning system to provide information technology support for breakthrough innovation.

I'm looking forward to your feedback !


"Often, other projects have one company behind them. For example, the CMS WordPress has SixApart"

You probably meant MovableType or TypePad.

The information I found says that Movable Type was the package, but Six Apart is the company behind it

Comment on the form of the paper: you mention 'Drupal' 12 times before giving a definition of what Drupal is. You might want to do this a lot sooner.

Comments on the content of the paper:

  • Page 2 regarding OOP: Although there is a technical debate regarding whether or not OOP would be beneficial, the reasoning is that functional PHP is easy to learn, so more people would contribute, and critical mass would be gained a lot easier. See Dries Buytaert on 'Why PHP (and not Java)?' at
  • Page 2 regarding company backings: WordPress is not backed by SixApart.
  • Page 4 regarding Drupal timeline: It might be a good to clarify that the Drupal Association is a not-for-profit organization and not a company.
  • Page 4: You misspelled Acquia as Aquia.

The list goes on. Currently your paper is obviously in draft form. You should reread it (again) and double check your facts before you ask for other people to comment on it.

Thank you for the feedback. I took out the misspelling and added your suggestion to mention not-for-profit.

It was never my intention to define Drupal. I counted the times it is mentioned to see what you consider the definition of Drupal. If you didn't count the title, I'm guessing you mean: "We start this paper by introducing Drupal as one of the players in the CMS market." Notice that I use Drupal the first 8 times as "Drupal ecosystem" and "Drupal case". The first time I use Drupal not as an adjective is with: "Drupal is an emerging technology". It may be good idea to bring this more to the front, I'll consider it.

Still what do you mean with wrong facts?

If you mean SixApart was not the company that changed WordPress licensing to OS, could you provide me with info, because all my sources say differently

Thanks for considering my feedback.

Six Apart created Movable Type. In 2004 the licensing terms for the Movable Type package were changed by Six Apart and many of its users migrated to WordPress, causing a marked and continuing growth in WordPress's popularity.

So the only link is that a lot of users moved from Six Apart's Movable Type to Wordpress.

That is indeed a big difference. I'll remove the part about Six Apart

The company backing WordPress is Automattic - As stated SixApart is behind MovableType.

I didn't read the paper, but perhaps your argument could still be supported, just with the details changed.

I've made a small change. It would be great to have more info about it, but that would be for future research.

Interesting paper from what I've read so far, especially the results from the Drupalcon Copenhagen interviews. As someone who is looking to find his niche in the Drupal ecosystem, that is the really valuable information.

I would agree with the other commenters who have suggested that you define Drupal earlier. You could probably do so on the first page, saying something like "The development ecosystem of Drupal, an open-source content management system, illustrates how self-organization and small changes can lead to more disruptive innovation than managed innovation."

Few other comments:

Development Seed is two words.

The information about organizing Drupalcons is in the middle of the Palantir paragraph. It should at least be in its own paragraph, but probably in a different place, since it discusses what several different shops have done.

Trellon doesn't have an "i" in its name.

Drupal Commerce should have a capital letter in the second word. Also, I think that the conflict was actually less about business interests, and more about differing architectural ideas about how to deal with the innovations in Drupal 7 (Ubercart being a continuation of a stable platform, Drupal Commerce being a new design to take advantage of all Drupal 7 adds.)

I think the third paragraph in your "Emerging strategic management" section is the best in the article. That's definitely going to be quotable :)

In the section on distros, it should say "the additional code in a distribution cannot be added directly to Drupal core", or something. It is stored in a repository - the repository of the group providing the distro.

In the next section, it should say "We decided to take a radically different approach."

Open Atrium is also in two words.

The Drupal Commerce story has indeed a technical background and not a commercial one. Quoting Ryan Szrama:

In short, our plan was to re-implement the core systems of Ubercart on Drupal 7 to reflect everything we'd learned in the past three years and to take advantage of D7's killer new features, like entities and fields in core.

Source: A rose by any other name

Technical versus commercial can still have a strategic origin. I mention that there is no strategic interest and this makes it logical why a technical conflict arises (one is going for stability the other for D7's new features). Still it seems to me that the strategic difference is the source of the divine.

I've used the sentence you suggest (more or less) and changed the first paragraph of my paper. Also thanks for all the misspelling issues. About Ubercart, please consider my later reply.

I can't of lose you about the distros, I've mentioned repository a few time so I'm not sure to what part your referring too and with "next section" I'm totally lost. If you provide me with some more info I'll gladly take your suggestion into account.