The eLearning Fundi

Random reflections about eLearning in Africa

the myths of innovation: there is a method for innovation

In the last two days, I have posted a summary of the first and second chapters of Scott Berkun’s book, the myths of innovation. In the third chapter, Scott shows that despite the conventional belief that there is a systematic approach to innovation, there is not such a thing, hence the myth: There is a method for innovation.

The myths stipulates that there is a methodological (or systematic) approach to innovating – more so that can be read in cookbooks or how-to manuals. Taken this way, there are myth posits that there are calculated risks and steps toward an innovation. Paradoxically, if there are known steps or risks toward an idea then it is not new and therefore not an innovation.

Innovators are driven by unsystematic desire, curiosity and dreams. These in themselves do not translate to an innovation until they are translated to a commitment – to hard work in a certain direction that might extend for years. However, there can be a direction change when new knowledge or an intended innovation arises. In the equation, there are personal interests and ambitions that drive people during the innovation process. In addition, a number of innovators are driven by the quest to make more money. Clearly, a mesh of factors contribute to the basic need to innovate, and with the different combinations, there cannot be a single methodology for innovation.

There are however common challenges that all innovators face including finding an idea (creating the initial curiosity); developing a solution to their idea; sponsorship and funding of the innovation process; reproduction of the solution so that it can be optimized for profit; reaching the potential customers; beating the competitors; proper timing on when to announce the innovation; and keeping the lights on. These challenges are further influenced exponentially by the unpredictability of the innovations, and the intended market or customer base.

However, there are paths that can make the innovation process easier or manageable: Self knowledge so that decisions are guided awareness of environments or challenges; passionate intensity toward success and willingness to look back and reconsider assumptions; starting it small and growing as new insights and ideas are realized; and honoring luck and the past – “acknowledging that you can do everything right and fail, and do many things wrong and succeed.” (Berkun, 2007, p. 51)

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