Most innovations fail; they always have, and they always will. That is innovation's dirty little secret, according to Larry Osborne in this book. Failure is an integral part of the change process, and yet change is necessary for survival and growth, so the key to success is to encourage numerous low-cost innovations, knowing that most will fail, but in the hope that some will succeed.
According to the author, you cannot simply trust what innovators tell you. Some have just struck it lucky, while others are unaware of why they are successful. There is however a defined set of characteristics possessed by a serial innovator:
* They have a special kind of insight, for predicting what will and won't work and how large groups of people will respond to a new idea.
* They have a unique form of courage, which involves trusting their mental model and taking carefully calculated risks.
* They have extraordinary flexibility, which enables them to make adjustments to their mental model as new data becomes available.
* They never commit to an innovation without having a planned, graceful way out in the event of failure.
I was particularly struck by the author's observation that the characteristics of serial innovators tend to be innate, and not something that can be taught or learned.
The book goes on to explain numerous aspects of innovation including:
* Key factors in igniting and accelerating innovation
* Factors which sabotage innovation including poor leadership, herd mentality, the desire for harmony, the use of surveys, and past successes
* How to break through barriers of competency and complexity
* How to create and sustain vision
* How to create a legacy of innovation
This is a very clear and well-written book, definitely one of the best books on innovation that I have read. The author is the pastor of a large church, and the primary intended audience is probably church leaders, but the principles are applicable to all types of organisations including businesses.