Busting Innovation Myths: Part 1

Added on by Alex Osterwalder & Tendayi Viki.
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Leaders have become more aware of the need to innovate within their large companies, yet their actions to drive innovation are often counterproductive, because they have fallen victim to some myths about how innovation actually works. The result is innovation theater which has little impact on growth and renewal.

At the Lean Startup Summit in Berlin,  we presented 10 common innovation myths. One myth we spoke about is the mistaken belief that:

By Adopting The Lean Start Up Method,
You Can Always Pivot Your Way To Success

Lean startup tools are about testing and finding out quickly which value propositions and business models might work versus those that won’t. Then making decisions about which projects to kill and which project to invest in. The goal is not to pivot into perpetuity!
Verdict: WRONG!

For companies to be ready for innovation, they need to get the following three elements right: leadership support, organizational design and innovation practice. The following are the three myths about leadership support for innovation:

  1. Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom
    This myth is based on the notion that there is no such thing as a bad idea. We believe that teams should be working on ideas that are aligned to their company’s strategic goals and innovation guidelines. If teams work on random ideas, they will find it much more difficult to get support from their company to scale those ideas.
    Verdict: WRONG!

  2. Innovation Is Expensive
    This myth comes from the idea that innovation is all about investing heavily in technology and R&D and investing large amounts of money upfront.  Innovation is only expensive if you use traditional business planning to make investment decisions. Innovation done right is about testing ideas cheaply and quickly, then adapting them, until you have enough evidence to invest and scale.
    Verdict: WRONG!

  3. Big Returns Require Big Bets
    It’s actually the exact opposite. Innovation done right is all about making many small bets. You then gradually increase your bets in the winners that emerge from those early investments. This approach is common practice in Venture Capital, and it helps to weed out bad ideas and the teams that don’t have it in them to take a venture forward. This myth leads to companies making big bets, when they should be making many small bets that increase over time for those teams that show traction and success.
    Verdict: WRONG!

To avoid the common mistakes caused by these myths, prepare your organization using our new innovation readiness tool. We’ll be posting more myths related to other segments of this tool over the coming weeks, so keep your myth-busting antennas on alert.


Read Part 2 of Busting Innovation Myths