The Innovation Illusion


On the surface, this book seems to be making a valid argument about the difficulty of innovating but on closer reflection, one realizes that it is based on a logical fallacy. The fallacy is the idea that people and companies (mostly the entrepreneurs and founders of startup companies) really think that all it takes to succeed in business is a great technology. This fallacious assumption is put forth as though it is fact throughout the book in statements like.

“Do not expect ideas, technologies, or innovations to make it big just by showing up, therefore, no matter how brilliant they appear… there is no such thing as a superior technology that effortlessly sweeps through markets… entrepreneurship thrives on passion, but the same sentiment often also stands in the way of sober market analysis”

The reality is that entrepreneurs and business people don’t believe the things the author claims they do. It is the entrepreneur, more than anyone, who understands the difficulty of navigating complex market dynamics and that you can’t just ‘show up’ with a great technology and expect to succeed. The true entrepreneur is the one who understands that an invention is just 10% of what needs to happen for a new product or service to make it in the market. The true entrepreneur is someone who has failed several times and has seen firsthand what the author describes as something they know nothing about.

It is true that entrepreneurs and business people frequently underestimate the time and effort required to bring a new offering to market and there is much to say about why this is so and ways to improve the situation. But the conclusions of this book stem from a complete misunderstanding of the experience of the innovator who, based on experience, knows all too well how it’s never enough to just  ‘show up’ with a new technology.

Original Article »


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