Experience or potential? Which would you rather have?

In last Thursday’s Innochat session about “Innovation and Experience” one of the questions posed was: How important is experience to the ability to innovate?

An additional question came up during the chat:

I tackled these questions earlier in the year. They way I framed it is: Does innovation get easier the more you do it?

My response is the following: innovation isn’t a matter of age or experience; it’s a matter of attitude, perspective, persistence and determination. Certainly having experience helps you avoid mistakes; but innovation rarely happens the same way.

It’s important to know what not to do and maintain a beginner’s mind. These two characteristics are where potential lies. In other words: you’re practicing an innovation mindset if you have experience but also approach each situation with a beginner’s mind.

Innovation would you rather have experience or potential

For example, I have experience in the different types of innovation approaches (R&D, breakthrough, sustaining, disruptive) but I don’t like repeating what I’ve done before. Rather, I avoid previous mistakes (experience) and approach the situation as if it were new; which it is.

If you look at this from an organizational perspective, most organizations don’t get better at innovation over time. They get better at optimization (experience / sustain / reduce errors), but suck at disrupting themselves (beginner’s mind).