Sinnovation: The 10 Deadly Sins of Innovation

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BusinessWeek ran an article last week on the 7 deadly sins of innovation.  Let me know which ones you face most often and how you deal with it! Here’s a summary of the article:

Sinnovation – BusinessWeek

October 21, 2009 (2:38 PM) by GMM

The seven deadly sins of the innovator—and how you can stop yourself from committing them

Just for fun, let’s take a look at seven of the most common and deadly sins of the innovator. We’ve seen all of these cause failures of Biblical proportions.

1. Lust. Innovating in a space you have no business being in. Trying to innovate outside your operational expertise or brand footprint creates incredible inertia internally. It also causes unhealthy confusion externally. “Wait,” the customer says. “My longtime supplier of plastic molding injection equipment is now making iPhone (AAPL) accessories? What gives?”

2. Gluttony. Trying to create too many initiatives with too few resources. Innovation takes emotional and financial capital and focus. Instead of making a number of small bets, focus your team and resources on one or two initiatives that have the greatest probability of hitting it big.

3. Greed. Taking short-term profits at the expense of long-term growth. The stock market demands a high rate of return, which naturally results in safe bets like line extensions — leaving you at risk of being blown out of the water by an industry-changing idea. The solution? Create two teams. Put one in charge of evolution and the other in charge of revolution. You’ll get both short- and long-term growth.

4. Sloth. Taking short cuts. Too many otherwise brilliant leaders have made the mistake of thinking that speed and short cuts are the only way to successfully innovate. While we agree that being overly cautious — “Let’s test the idea for the 83rd time” — is also potentially fatal, there is a happy medium. Think big, quantify, qualify, refine, and launch. This should take no more than 12 months.

5. Wrath. Being so focused on your competition that you miss the same opportunities your rivals are missing. You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar. Don’t get kicked to the curb by someone outside your industry who is rightly focused on the consumer (and not either one of you).

6. Envy. In the context of innovation, envy means launching a “me too” product instead of finding a space you can own. So when your sales team comes to you and demands that you launch a product to compete with the “hot” new offering they just saw from the competitor, don’t take the bait.

7. Pride. You won’t give up on your favorite idea — even when the numbers prove you’re wrong. When it comes to your ideas, you must take a long, hard look at the data. Unless the data are overwhelmingly in favor of your idea, drop it and work on the one the team secretly knows is better.

Religion tells us the seven deadly sins are fatal to spiritual progress. We will let you debate that thought with the theologian of your choice. But we can tell you they are definitely fatal if you want to innovate successfully.

Read the full “Sinnovation” article in BusinessWeek

Happy Innovating!

Cindy Diamond

CEO, IGNiTE . . . fueling creativity and innovation

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