The Little Black Book of Innovation

The Little Black Book of Innovation is a how-to book for prospective innovators. Scott Anthony defines true innovation and the different types, explains the history of modern thinking about it, and makes a compelling case for the need for businesses to innovate. Innovation disrupts and transforms companies and markets. A key to innovation is developing solutions for unidentified or unsolved problems. Anthony uses anecdotes to describe the need for innovation, and business successes and failures when attempting to innovate. He moves quickly from background and theory into a practical 28-step program that describes how to generate and test ideas, develop an action plan and organizational structure, and overcome obstacles.

Anthony describes to readers that:

• Innovation does not have to be unique, creative, or new, but it does have to be disruptive. It can be as simple as an incremental improvement to an existing product or service or radical enough to transform existing markets or create new ones.

• Product innovations result in things that are easier to use, more affordable, better, faster, or superficially more desirable than what currently exists. Observing consumers is the best way to discover the need for product innovations. Learning what tasks frustrate people leads to innovation.

• Innovation is necessary. Large companies that fail to innovate risk severe losses in market share to upstart competitors. Current competitive advantages can disappear rapidly. Some companies might have to abandon their core competencies to survive. The innovator’s paradox is that innovation does not seem urgent in good times, but cannot be accomplished quickly enough in times of exigency.

• Everyone can learn how to innovate. Prospective innovators should spend time with customers, ask questions, conduct frequent experiments, network, and learn new and different things.

• Businesses need to allow risk-taking and reward employees for successful processes, rather than results. A focus on outcomes quashes innovation.

• Businesses and entrepreneurs should limit how much they spend developing ideas. Finite resources force a need for innovation.

• The major steps of innovation are coming up with ideas and researching the possibilities, developing a business plan for implementation, testing an idea and evaluating the results, and implementation. The idea-or some aspect of it-is certain to fail, so innovators must be prepared with backup plans and a willingness to fix what does not work.

• Innovators must avoid common pitfalls like attaching too much ego to an idea; making things that are better, more complicated, or more expensive than the market will bear; and impatience for growth.