Sins That Choke Innovation

Even companies serious about innovation can fall victim to their own, well-meaning creative process.

In most companies, there’s a profound tension between the right-brainers (for lack of a better term) espousing design, design thinking and user-centered approaches to innovation and the left-brained, more spreadsheet-minded among us. Most C-suites are dominated by the latter, all of whom are big fans of nice neat processes and who pay good money to get them implemented rigorously. So often, the innovation process is treated as a simple, neat little machine. Put in a little cash and install the right process, and six months later, out pops your new game-changing innovation — just like toast, right from the toaster. But that, of course, is wrong.

Ryan Jacoby, the heads of IDEO’s New York practice, gave a talk at NYU/Poly with just that tension in mind, titled Leading Innovation: Process Is No Substitute. Jacoby’s point: processes are all well and good, but they don’t guarantee innovation, and in some cases they might even provide a false sense of security. Ryan outlined what he described as the Seven Deadly Sins of innovation, which I’m sure will ring true for most people who’ve worked on such projects. They are:

1: Thinking the answer is in here, rather than out there
2: Talking about it rather than building it
3: Executing when we should be exploring
4: Being smart
5: Being impatient for the wrong things
6: Confusing cross-functionality with diverse viewpoints
7: Believing process will save you

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