The 3 Biggest Innovation Myths BUSTED

5th Nov 2021
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Since the human race began, we’ve been innovating: We’ve developed better tools, more efficient ways of completing tasks and more effective products, processes and services that have improved our lives.

And, these days, innovation has become even more important for businesses who want to stay ahead of the curve in such a noisy, crowded marketplace.

Luckily for us though, our capacity to innovate has gotten even better with the rise of technology. It’s now easier than ever to develop, share and execute our innovative ideas.

But, despite this, innovation remains in the ‘’too hard basket’’ for many companies. Why? Mainly because there’s a myriad of myths that surround the concept of innovation.

Myths like: You’re either born with the skill to innovate, or you’re not”, or “Innovation is something that just happens, you can’t force it”, or “To be innovative, you have to invent something.”

For a word that is used so much, it lacks a clear and consistent definition, leaving room for many interpretations, misconceptions, and running the risk of becoming cliché.” – Credera

This article will look at three of the biggest misconceptions that stop organisations from innovating. It will debunk each one and uncover the real truth behind true innovation.

Innovation MYTH #1: You’re either an innovator or you’re not 

68% of businesses think that innovators are “born and cannot be made.”

People tend to believe that innovation is something you either can or can’t do: You can’t teach innovation; you can’t learn how to be innovative; and, you can’t improve your ability to innovate. Innovation is a magical process that only natural-born ‘blue-sky-thinkers’ can achieve.

With well-publicised, natural-born innovators like Elon Musk coming up with a stream of game-changing ideas and concepts effortlessly, you can see why so many of us think like this. Innovation can often seem like an impossible task for the average Joe: I mean, is it even worth trying to innovate if you don’t possess a naturally creative, innovative mindset like Musk?  

We unconsciously tend to believe that entrepreneurial flair is a matter of genetics; a recent ESCI survey I conducted found that 68% of business leaders firmly believe that great innovators are born and cannot be made.” - LinkedIn

Innovation FACT #1: Anyone can be an innovator

It can’t be denied that some people are born with a natural talent to innovate. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn, improve or develop the skills to become innovative. People mistakenly believe that innovation is all about creativity. That you need a creative mind to be able to think up and execute wild and wonderful innovations.

But there’s more to innovation than just thinking up ideas. The process of innovation is partly creative and partly scientific. It requires a combination of logical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and practical skills.

So, while few of us are naturally good at all of these skills, we do all possess strengths in some of these areas. And, we are all capable of improving on each one.

It’s been proven that innovation is only 30% nature, but a whopping 70% nurture.

70% of creativity is related to environment, which means that it’s entirely possible for just about anyone to learn to think more innovatively.” – FS Blog

The key to innovative thinking lies in our curiosity. And we’re all naturally curious by nature. Think back to when we were kids: All those times we pestered our parents for answers to questions like “why is the grass green?”, “why do I have two eyes if I only see one thing?”, or “why is the moon called the moon?”

So, bring that element of curiosity back. Ask questions, look for problems and harness your dormant curiosity to unleash your capacity for out-the-box thinking.

While some people may be gifted with a naturally more creative and innovative brain, that doesn’t mean that innovation in business and creativity is a skill that can’t be taught or improved.” – LinkedIn

Innovation MYTH #2: You can’t force innovative thinking

Many believe that innovative ideas are born out of random bursts of inspiration and creativity. They’re light bulb moments that can’t be predicted, managed or forced. It’s this perceived unpredictability and lack of control that makes some organisations mistrust the innovative thinking process. They often see it as an unreliable use of time, money and resources. For instance, you can’t take a bunch of people away from their jobs, sit them in a room for several hours and expect them to come up with a load of wild, ground-breaking ideas, can you?

It’s true that you cannot tell others to start innovating randomly and expect much to come out of them.” – UpTalkies

Or can you?

Innovation FACT #2: You can encourage innovation by building a culture of innovation

As we’ve established, there’s no denying that inspiration is unpredictable. This is because we’re all inspired by different things. But, according to Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, innovation is only 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So, if you can provide the right stimuli, the right environment and the right amount of encouragement, inspiration will flow regularly and innovative ideas will come, predictably.

As we discovered earlier, curiosity breeds innovation. If you encourage your staff to continuously question things, look for problems and brainstorm solutions, you’ll create a culture of innovation.

You can’t tell others to start innovating and expect much good to come of it. But you can create an environment that encourages and rewards curiosity and therefore promotes engagement and innovation.” – FS Blog

Make sure you give your workforce the freedom and autonomy that allows them to think independently and develop a company ethos that embraces mistakes and failures rather than fears them. 

Innovation MYTH #3: Innovation is the same as invention

The internet, the light bulb and the motorized vehicle are all examples of innovative products that have been invented by infamous geniuses and renowned inventors. People often think that if something isn’t a big technological breakthrough or a ground-breaking invention that it isn’t “real innovation”.

Generally speaking, innovation is typically used to refer to just big technological breakthroughs.” - Viima

And of course, these big breakthroughs are innovative, but innovation isn’t only reserved for creative inventors…

Innovation FACT #3: You don’t have to invent something new to be innovative

I was guilty of thinking that innovation was all about inventing a completely new product, process or service.

But it’s not as daunting as you might think.

Innovation is defined as “the introduction of anything new”. Therefore, as we might expect, any new process, product or service counts as innovation. But any changes or improvements that are made to an existing process, product or service also counts as innovation.

Innovation doesn’t always have to be about reinventing the wheel, it can be about simply improving the wheel.” - LinkedIn

Take the iPod for example. The iPod was a ‘never-seen-before’ product when it arrived, wasn’t it? But here’s the thing: Apple didn’t introduce any new technologies when they launched it. It was effectively just a handheld hard drive, which was a technology that was well-established at the time. Apple simply took the technology and adapted it for a different use case.

Innovation does not have to mean inventing a completely brand-new idea or object but rather simply improving something old and familiar, the idea of innovation becomes considerably less daunting and more accessible to a wider range of people.” - LinkedIn

Innovation is, therefore, not out of reach for the average Joe. You don’t need to create something mind-blowing like the internet or a spaceship to be innovative.  You just need to find your inner curiosity and discover what you can do to improve your products, processes and services: Can this be done? What can be done to improve this? Why won’t this work? What’s missing?

So, we’ve established that innovation is something anyone can do, you don’t need to be born with the skill to innovate. We know that a culture of innovation can help you come up with innovative ideas on the regular, and we’ve discovered that you don’t need to reinvent the entire wheel to be innovative.

But the costs and risks involved when embarking on new innovative projects can still be a blocker for some.

This is where the government-funded R&D tax credit scheme will help. The incentive allows organisations to claim up to 33% of the costs associated with the innovative project.

To find out more, speak to the specialist R&D tax advisors at Myriad Associates. With a 100% success rate and having been in the R&D tax credit industry for over a decade, they have the skill and experience to help you claim the maximum amount of tax relief for your innovations.

Call them on 0207 118 6045 or drop them a message here.