This is a great read in Forbes — and not long! — by Edward D. Hess of Batten Institute at UVa’s Darden School of Business: Why Is Innovation So Hard?

A few choice excerpts:

How does innovation occur? Through an inefficient process of ideation, exploration, and experimentation.

Innovative thinking, like critical thinking, does not come naturally to most people … As Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman stated,  “Laziness is built deep into our nature.” As a result, we are cognitively blind to disconfirming data and challenging ideas. In addition, our thinking is limited by our tendency to rationalize information that contradicts our beliefs and by many cognitive biases.

Thinking differently is also hard emotionally … Fear is one of the emotions that comes all too naturally to most of us—and makes it hard for us to engage in the messy work of innovation. Fear of failure, fear of looking bad, and fear of losing our job if we make mistakes all can lead to what Chris Argyris called “defensive reasoning”: the tendency to defend what we believe

… in order to innovate we need to change our attitude toward failures and mistakes. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, avoiding failure is not a sign that we’re smart. Being smart is not about knowing all the answers and performing flawlessly. Being smart is knowing what you don’t know, prioritizing what you need to know, and being very good at finding the best evidence-based answers …

To innovate, you must simultaneously tolerate mistakes and insist on operational excellence. Many businesses struggle with implementing that dual mentality.

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