Seven Myths of Innovation

Krisztine “Z” Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, introduced “Seven Myths of Innovation” to newspaper editors at the Knight Leadership Conference this week.

“My goal is to help you inject some innovation into the work you do,” she said.

Here are her seven myths, as recorded by Knight blogger Michele McLellan.

Myth 1 – Always keep your eye on the ball.

“It’s really hard to notice other things if you keep your eye on the ball. You need to focus to get your work done. But you might miss things that come out of left field. It’s really hard to balance that.”

Myth 2 – Failure is not an option.
“We can be paralyzed by fear as well. Fear of failure is probably the biggest impediment to innovation.”

Message to newsrooms: “The culture needs to embrace failure and trying.”

Myth 3 – Everyone loves an innovator.
“They’re rebels, they’re difficult to deal with sometimes. They’re not always fun to have around.”
Message to newspaper editors: “It’s important that you as a leader embrace the irritant.”

The irritant may push against the “typical traps:”
“That will canabilize our businessi
“That’s not the way we do it around here.
“We tried that and it didn’t work
“That will threaten our jobs.

Myth 4 – “Innovators are problem solvers”
Actually, innovators ask “why?” In the music business, people might ask “How do we sell more CDs?” The innovator might ask, “how do we provide the best music listening experience?” (and Napster did it.).

Myth 5 – Knowledge is Power.
Organizations may know too much. Funny example: A remote with 52 buttons on it. The designer knew how to use every one and thought you might want too as well. Similarly, sometimes the customer knows too much – think photographers who said the would never want a digital camera and fast forward.

Myth 6 – Innovation can be predicted.
Measurement and management may spell death of innovation. “When you try to manage it, you actually kill it.”.

Myth 7 – First place always wins.
“It’s not the person who comes up with the idea first. It’s the one who delivers the product, delivers the experience that the market want it. Innovation build on the successes and failures of the innovators before.”
Example: iTunes didn’t invent mp3