Bakari Mustafa

Thoughts and Ideas.

15 Jan 2020

The Innovator’s Hypothesis

In this summary of The Innovator’s Hypothesis by Michael Schrage, you’ll discover

  • How a small team came up with the trackball mouse;
  • Why innovators keep the company’s core values in mind; and
  • That discarding your planner mentality is the way to go.

Business innovation is shifting away from costly research and development to inexpensive experimentation.

True progress is made when people introduce new and novel ideas. Remember what life was like before the telephone was invented? Okay, probably not – but it forever changed the way people communicate.

This kind of world-changing innovation continues to take place; it’s just happening in a different way.

It used to be well-funded research and development (R&D) departments that created innovative ideas and products. These days, however, innovation is coming from businesses that expand upon successful small-scale experiments.

This shift is taking place because the traditional R&D model – a lengthy research phase followed by a team of experts developing an idea from scratch – has proved too complex and costly. This old model can lead to innovation, but it takes massive amounts of analysis and financial assistance.

Just consider how much planning and money went into making a basic prototype for a hybrid car or HD television.

And for every revolutionary product, there are many more ideas that never see the light of day. In fact, an R&D team might spend millions doing market research only to abandon the idea after it tests poorly with consumers.

For these reasons, innovation is now the result of businesses conducting scalable experiments that are inexpensive, simple and less time-consuming.

Businesses are moving away from the costly analysis of R&D teams to conduct small-scale experiments that test a business hypothesis, or innovative idea, using a variation of the scientific method.

Take the innovative ideas behind Windows or the Mac, for example, You might think it was one genius idea that launched these products, but, in reality, each was the result of inexpensive experiments, step-by-step tinkering, and imaginative prototypes.

This is exactly the kind of innovation that is catching on today: starting out with small-scale, cheap experiments, and then scaling up the development process if the results turn out to be successful.

In the next book summary, we’ll take a closer look at this modern method and find out how businesses are conducting these experiments.

In Review: The Innovator’s Hypothesis Book Summary

The key message in this book:

Business experiments are a cheap, quick and simple way to generate smarter, better, safer and more scalable innovation that will benefit companies and their customers’ future.

Actionable advice:

Don’t forget to act.

As the great economist Joseph Schumpeter said, “Innovation is less an act of intellect than an act of will.” Think about a business hypothesis but don’t stop at the idea of the hypothesis. Carry it out. Go to the store, buy what you need to make it – and then make it happen!