Innovation is messy

Michele McLellan has been doing some liveblogging of the Knight Digital Media Center’s Leadership Conference this week.

Check out her notes from Krisztina Holly’s talk about innovation.  Holly mentioned seven myths about innovation; I’m going to flip the proverbial script and turn them into Seven Reasons Innovation is Messy:

  1. Focusing your vision on the core problem means missing opportunities popping up in your peripheral vision.
  2. Fail fast, fail often, move on.
  3. Innovators can be irritating.  Especially to fans of the status quo.
  4. Innovation isn’t about putting together the puzzle pieces; it’s about rethinking whether or not that’s the right puzzle you have spread all over the floor of the newsroom.
  5. All the market research and focus groups in the world can’t tell you how readers, or customers, or users will feel about the product of innovation until they have it in their hands.
  6. By definition, planning and management of innovation can be stifling.  You really don’t want to find  yourself on an “Innovation Task Force” unless you’re really into meetings.
  7. Innovation isn’t a race.  First isn’t always best.  Use the tools that are available right now and build on the work of others as necessary to improve incrementally.

To explore this a little further, take a look at some of Matt Waite’s notes on rolling out Politifact.  Someone had an idea, and someone happened to have a way to implement it.  Getting those two serendipitous elements together was the easy part.  Implementing it took a lot of pushing through versions of the messiness above to make something happen.

RelatedMindy McAdams relays this list of seven steps to writing like a digital native from Bill Dunphy.

2 thoughts on “Innovation is messy”

  1. Re: No. 5 — “… until they have it in their hands” … and no one is watching them.

    Don’t forget the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. People will tell you all sorts of things about how they think they will use a thing, but it’s not until they have had it for a while, and have had time alone with it, that they actually know how they are going to use it (or not use it).


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