Myths of Innovation

Noun. a widely held but false belief or idea

Innovation. It’s become the catch cry of organisations everywhere. It’s in tag lines, advertising, on products, in corporate profiles. We’re seemingly surrounded by innovative companies and brilliant new products.

So what about when innovation doesn’t work? Ideas, products and tools can and do fail – whether it be a product that misses the market; or a process that delivers complexity instead of simplicity; or a tool that simply doesn’t do what it should.

How often does an organisation have the opportunity to say:

“We tried. We failed. Our innovation didn’t do what it was supposed to”.

And then add, “and in hindsight, this is what we’d do differently.”

For Hargraves, that’s an integral part of our ‘collective wisdom’. Our members don’t just talk about what worked; they talk about what didn’t work. What they tried, that failed. What they’d do differently so peers can take the good bits and mould them, and maybe, with the benefit of hindsight, make it work.

Some time ago, Allan had a conversation about failed innovation. An innovative company introduced an expensive new system designed to ‘do it all’. Except it didn’t. Rather, it generated far more work than its preceding process with a similar result.

It was a ‘myth of innovation’ – because what was believed would happen, didn’t.

So we often ask our members to: 

“Tell us a myth. Something you expected or believed would happen, that didn’t happen, around innovation?”

Yes, some of the myths contradict each other – we’re a diverse community and we know what works for one organisation may not work for another. But we also know that what didn’t work for one organisation may work for another with the benefit of another’s hindsight.

Myths such as:

  1. “Using cool innovation techniques to generate ideas from the same product people and leaders somehow creates amazing disruptive ideas.”
  2. “All innovation is a major change/leap that requires massive effort. (It can be cheap and easy to make a difference.)”
  3. “Focus (money, resources etc) alone will enable innovation to become ‘business as usual’ within large organisations.”
  4. “I always thought innovation could meet customer expectation. But the gap between customer expectation and delivery keeps on increasing in spite of innovation.”
  5. “Implementing solutions without understanding pain points and what is truly the underlying problem.”
  6. “Chasing a toolset, a methodology or a training program to magically transform teams into innovators rather than allowing them and inspiring them to spend time in an unstructured way of thinking and discussing their problems.”
  7. “If we train our people on design-led thinking/agile/scrum methodology, they will innovate.”
  8. “When implementing a collaborative chat tool we expected natural take up and that didn’t happen.”
  9. “That a dedicated innovation team will solve the problems and will make the business more innovative.”
  10. “That the benefits of innovation will be so obvious that everyone will get on board.”

For the full top 20 Myths of Innovation, download our free infographic.

Do any of these myths sound familiar?
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