Innovation Doesn’t Need a Genius

Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration — Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison’s observation holds true for innovation as much as it does for genius. Developing “genius” innovations certainly requires inspiration, almost any innovator will tell you that inspiration comes from engaging with customers and end users. But the work that makes an inspiration look genius is foundational, unexciting and based on process. Success, when it comes to innovation, is largely about not f-ing up good inspiration during the hard work of perspiration.

Beit Agile or stage-gate, innovation development processes have been proven to work. But to most non-technical executives, innovation development is a mysterious black-box that ideas go into, then after a protracted delay, products come out of. Innovators are often incentivized to keep the process secretive. Opacity hides the iterative experiments, redirections and learning cycles that look inefficient to other business functions, can be easily criticized and ruins the illusion that innovator are geniuses.

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