The Five Myths of Innovation

myths of innovationInnovation isn’t easy, and there are all types of myths on how to make it work and not make it work (see here, here, here, here, here).

In this webinar, Professor Julian Birkinshaw talks about his research on the myths and realities of innovation in large organizations. The five myths are:

  1. The eureka moment. It’s the idea that a game-changing ideas just comes to you out of nowhere. Sometimes it happens, but it’s rare. The truth is creativity is hard work, it takes time to get that eureka moment.
  2. Let the data speak for itself. Using data to come up with insights? It’s risky to believe that data will tell you what customers want. The point is that the bigger that data set, the more thoughtful you have to be. Computers are very good at answering questions, we’re better at asking questions; start by asking better questions to get better answers, and don’t let the data tell you the answer before doing that.
  3. Build it and they will come. Social networks have given rise to idea portals, where people can join a challenge and post their ideas. The assumption is that a portal will get people to contribute ideas. The truth is, just like any app or website, people need to be given a reason to keep coming back.
  4. Pay is paramount. Purpose matters, not just pay; it’s what most bosses don’t understand about getting the best from people.
  5. Bottom up innovation is best. Innovation comes from everywhere, unfortunately it doesn’t happen that often. Most innovative organizations are driven by a combination of bottom down and bottom up. A good sign that an organization is innovative, it that it is lead by an innovative leader. The challenge for organizations that are not let by innovative leaders is to create the conditions for innovation to happen, bottom up, and step in when its necessary to make a tough decision.

Bottom line: Another myth I’d raise is that innovation results from following a template. The truth is innovation challenges abound inside large organizations, innovation is messy, there is no straight line.