Do We Innovate As We Believe We Do?

When it’s your business to teach creativity and innovation practices, it’s tempting to assume everyone believes that there might be a set of defined steps for innovation or that it’s possible to learn them. Well, as we’ve discovered, not everyone does.

Our first published paper following a recent survey of presumed innovators, educators, and just plain curious folks is now available and we hope you’ll enjoy its findings as much as we have.

We’ll save you a bit of time and share some major findings of our research:

  • Most believe innovation can be taught
  • Most believe innovation is a random process

These findings may not seem strange, but think about what this is saying and why it makes teaching innovation difficult.

Believing that innovation can be taught implies that there are a set of instructions that have been developed, tested, documented, and put into sufficient practice such that, over time, those practices are accepted as reasonably effective and efficient. In short, believing innovation can be taught says there is a defined or at least traceable path from a need or problem to a solution.

Unfortunately, when folks actually implement their innovation, they do so with an expectation that success is little better than guess-work, typically called brainstorming, a random process path that is indiscernible and thus impossible to document, test, or teach.

We’re baffled by this inconsistency and we’re going to continue our research to understand it better, but we also know that we’ll be working harder to engage our customers in the ideas and beliefs behind good innovation practice BEFORE we go too far down the road in teaching those practices.

If you’d like to take the same survey that our respondents took, we’d love to add you to the growing list of participants. Visit this link to test your own ideas around innovation.