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The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

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The challenges of innovation

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and Pixar, was asked, "How do you systematize innovation?" (a common question among CEOs and the business community). His answer was, "You don't." [59] This was not what readers of Business Week expected to hear, but foolish questions often receive disappointing answers. It's as absurd a question as asking how to control weather or herd cats, because those approximate the lack of control and number of variables inherent in innovation. Jobs, or any CEO, might have a system for trying to manage innovation, or a strategy for managing the risks of new ideas, but that's a far cry from systematizing something. I wouldn't call anything with a 50% failure rate a system, would you? The Boeing 777 has jet engines engineered for guaranteed 99.99% reliability—now that's a system and a methodology. It's true that innovation is riskier than engineering, but that doesn't mean we should use words like system, control, or process so casually.

A better question, one with useful answers, is: what challenges do innovations face? While success is unpredictable, the challenges can be identified and used as excellent tools. Any successful innovation can be studied for how those challenges were overcome, and any innovation in progress can be managed with those challenges in mind.

In this chapter's second swoop through the innovations of all time, I've categorized the eight challenges innovations confront.

  1. Find an idea. Ideas can come from anywhere: ...

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