Debunking 4 Common Innovation Myths

Most innovation challenges actually arise from certain misconceptions about innovation. Read our blog to learn what are the 4 common innovation myths and the reality behind them.

If we ask five different innovation managers what innovation is, it is likely that each of them will give a different answer. And this is totally right because there is no standard definition of innovation. It is an abstract concept that can mean a hundred things at once. As a result, there are plenty of misconceptions and myths regarding innovation, which often lead to various innovation challenges.

Let’s explore the four most common innovation myths and debunk the reality behind them!

4 Common Innovation Myths

1. It Takes Lone Genius to Bring About Great Innovations

Stories of brilliant minds such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk might convince you that lone geniuses can bring about breakthrough innovations. Worse, some would suggest, others should not even try because they don’t have it in them. However, the reality is far from it. While some people are indeed better innovators than the rest — just like Taylor Swift sings better than me (please laugh at my poor joke), it doesn’t mean others cannot innovate at all. Moreover, corporate innovation is not a solo activity, only good teamwork leads to successful innovation management.

Here’s a clip from the movie Apollo 13 that would not only entertain you but also show you show teamwork sparks innovation:

2. Innovation Cannot Be Learned

Our first innovation myth leads to the next — not everyone is gifted with the art of innovation or it cannot be taught. That is not true. Coming up with innovative solutions is a thought process that can be learned. This includes other skills such as logical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy, among others, none of which are rocket science. Various courses on these skills help people at all stages of their careers unleash the hidden innovators in them.

Watch Dr. Ness, a veteran epidemiologist, explain how to teach innovative thinking:

3. Innovation Should Always Target Big Markets

It is needless to say that innovation requires a lot of investment as well as huge efforts. As a result, most people think that it doesn’t make sense to cater to a market if it is not big enough. It is true that bigger markets have more opportunities. But don’t the other players know it as well? Aren’t they too trying to be the number #1? This is what increases your competition. So, you shouldn’t always go after the biggest markets. Identify your niche and build your product or service to target smaller markets.

To make this more realistic, let’s take the example of electric cars. Today, it is one of the hottest markets. But, the scenario was quite the opposite when Tesla was just getting started. They created a market, which people thought would at maximum become a niche segment of automotive in the future. And hence, today they are the biggest player in electric cars!

4. Innovation = Breakthrough Inventions

Many people have the idea that something can be considered a “real innovation” only if it is a big breakthrough. But the Merriam-Webster dictionary begs to differ! It defines innovation as the introduction of something new, or a new idea, method, or device. It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge as long as it is novel. Therefore, any incremental improvement to an existing product or service also counts as innovation. You don’t always have to launch earth-shaking products (please do if you can) to be considered an innovative company.

Bonus: Here’s Scott Berkun providing a summary of his book, The Myths of Innovation. Check it out!

Now, coming to you — have you been a victim of any of these innovation myths, or, know of other myths about innovation? Get in touch & let us know!

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