Deadly Sins of Innovation Leaders


Jeff DeGraff in his MIX article Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation Leaders mentions 7 sins and their redemption for Innovation leaders. Here is the summary of those:

  1. You think you can see the future – Really can you? So make small but wider bets on new things
  2. Market economics makes you choose big over fast – too risky. Evaluate the pace at which you can move and choose your new bets accordingly.
  3. Mistaking managers for Innovators, instead, encourage and support your deviants – New ideas come from people who interact with the world, who can see things differently, and who question the status quo – and more often than not they are not supported or encouraged in the organization.
  4. Having more ambition than Capability – Obviously, he suggests that you should base your capability on your capacity. This may seem simple, but many organizations fail to estimate their physical and intellectual capability to do new things.
  5. Starting at the center and then moving out – Rather start from the fringes and merge the successful experiments to your core – this will ensure that your core is always strong. Meddling with the core may not yield results always – though you will always find examples where it has worked.
  6. Listening to Wrong Customers- Now how do you know which customers are right and you should go to the – A simple tip – Listen to customers that move first – First movers in their space will also force you to move first in servicing them and coming up with new solutions for the industry you serve.
  7. Failing to connect the Dots – This is a BIG sin and it comes very naturally to companies as their key teams work in silos and hardly know about each other’s work. Leaders are also too attached to their own teams and area of work. To be successful in new things you must work across the organization and that means you must free yourself of your attachments, and develop the ability to see bigger things.

I think this is a brilliant synthesis of what goes wrong with Innovation initiatives at organizations. The third one is particularly interesting because most leaders tend to expect innovation results from their operational best performers, forgetting that the best operational guys and best innovators have a different DNA.

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