Why HBR does not understand innovation

Surprisingly, there are still people who confuse correlation with causality. Even more surprising is that these people appear to be able to publish on HBR in this (paid?) post.

Overall it seem that they are seeking to push software solution for management of R&D projects within large corporations. That tool, as far as I understand is good and probably one of the better approaches to deal with R&D within MNCs and other large corporate.

This set aside, there are a few misconceptions that should not exist in any publications.

  • The authors suggest that innovation works similar to a sales funnel, where many possible R&D projects are analyzed and then prioritized. This is correct, as soon as you have concrete ideas that can be phrased. This is however incorrect if you do not have them yet.
  • The authors measure innovation by the “Ideation rate” which means by management approved R&D projects. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with successful innovation but rather reflects the consensus building process within an organization (don’t get me wrong, I think this is very valuable, but just not innovation)
  • The authors think that correlation explains causality (and yes it can, but it not necessarily does).
  • The authors say that innovation is scalable. Therefore, if such a tool is applied to a large organization, lets say the Indian Railways (with 1.3 million employees) they should soon be building a hyperloop…

Anyway, was an odd sighting today, so I thought I had to mention that.


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