Five Innovation Myths

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The journey of exploring new ideas for your business is not a linear one and differs significantly from simply managing an existing business.  Here I outline five myths with the idea development journey that may prevent you from turning your next idea into a wonderful success.

Myth 1 – The most important part of the innovation journey is to find and execute the perfect idea

The reality is that the innovation journey, the idea journey, is about turning ideas into value propositions that prospective customers care about and a model which can easily scale should the idea be successful.

Ideas are easy but they are just the starting point.  The hard part is to constantly test and adapt ideas that look great in theory until you have sufficient evidence that they will work in reality.

Myth 2 – The evidence will show you a clear path when you systematically test ideas.  The solution will magically emerge if you test and adapt your idea enough.

In reality innovation and ideation is about making informed decisions based on incomplete and potentially contradictory evidence.  And sometimes killing an idea is the healthy thing to do.

Turning a new idea into a successful entity will always remain an art.  It is rare that the evidence will show you an obvious path forwards.  Evidence allows you to detect patterns and make informed decisions that are less risky than opinion based bets.

Myth 3 – A small number of big bets will lead to a large return

The reality is that exploration requires making a large number of small bets that you gradually reduce over time, based on evidence.  I refer you here to the lobster pot model often used in decision making.

In the early stages it’s impossible to know which ideas will work and which ones won’t.  Only provide real investment into projects that can provide real evidence that they could work in reality.

Myth 4 – The skills required to explore a new business idea and to manage an existing business are similar.

Reality shows us though that idea exploration is very different to idea exploitation.  They require different skill sets and experience.

Testing and adapting a business idea until it works is a different skill set than keeping an existing business product portfolio going.  When investigating new ideas the challenge is uncertainty.  You get better at exploration the more experience you have, just like you get better at managing a business over time.

Myth 5 – Innovators are pirates that are out to disrupt old methods of doing business.  They need to operate in stealth mode.

In reality innovators need to be seen as partners and collaborators – people within an organisation that are essential for its sustainable future.  Otherwise, any meaningful innovation is unlikely to emerge on a sustainable scale.

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