Looking for help with Innovation?

Look no further than the:

  • 1.93 billion Google results
  • 773, 733 articles in scholarly journals
  • Over 60,000 books on Amazon

There is no shortage of information, insights, advice, or research on innovation.

But who has time to read it?

You don’t.  You’re too busy doing innovation to spend time reading about or studying it.

Of course, you do what you can – read an article, pick up a book, attend a webinar or conference, talk to a friend or colleague.  But you always wonder if there’s something you’re missing.  If the silver bullet that will finally make innovating in big companies easier is out there and you’ve missed it.

It’s not out there.

You haven’t missed it.

In fact, everything you need to know is summed up in these 3 sentences.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein

Successful innovations solve meaningful problems.  Yet most innovation teams rush right past the problem and right into creating solutions. And that’s a problem.

95% of innovations fail.  The #1 cause of failure is poor product-market fit.  The cause of poor product-market fit is a poor understanding of the problem and what the market deems to be a desirable, viable, and feasible solution.

Spend time thinking about the problem.  Fall in love with the problem.  Embrace the discomfort of not knowing and the mess of figuring it out. Once you understand the problem, home in on the root causes, can articulate the functional/emotional/social Jobs to be Done, and see the frictions that prevent solutions, then and only then should you start thinking about solutions.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

It seems that in business, it’s better to be confidently wrong than correctly uncertain.  Saying “I don’t know” feels like the death knell of your career so it’s no wonder that people will do anything they can to avoid saying it.  They’ll position an opinion as a fact, mischaracterize data, and even lie to avoid appearing uncertain.

False certainty is at the heart of so many failures, from unsuccessful products to global financial collapses.

Instead, be honest about what you don’t know and have a plan to learn.  And if saying “I don’t know” feels too risky, try:

  • I believe…
  • I think…
  • I would bet my annual/monthly/daily salary that….

Then take action – ask questions and listen to the answers, create prototypes, and run experiments. Do the work required to know.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

You poured your heart and soul into your innovation.  Through (sometimes literally) blood, sweat, and tears, you created something new that creates value.  And now you want everyone to know.

You want everyone to know the intricate details of how it works, to understand the agonizing trial and error you endured, to appreciate every detail of this amazing thing that you created.

No one cares.  Everyone stopped listening after 30 seconds. Everyone cares about themselves and their problems.  They want their problems to go away and if you have a solution that works, they’ll happily use it.  They don’t need details, they need results.

You created something amazing, now tell people about it in the way they want to hear – simply, clearly, and quickly.  If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.  Even worse, no one will listen long enough to know, understand, or want it.

What’s the 4th sentence?

Across those 1.93 billion Google results, 773, 733 scholarly journal articles, and 60,000+ books there are billions of more sentences.  But very few of them are battle-tested, enduring, and true.

The three above fit that bill.  What are others?