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Knowledge blocks innovation

My respected former colleague Wilfred Rubens pointed me to an interesting posting on the HBR innovation blog of Scott Anthony. It is about the danger of knowledge blocking innovation. The central issue: people who have deep knowledge about a topic sometimes assume other people have that same knowledge. That in itself can be problematic for innovation, because R&D of companies can have wrong assumptions about level of knowledge of potential customers for their innovations. They assume customers know more then they do, making them blind for opportunities & threats regarding their innovations. Anthony supports this notion with a Gillette example. Although I agree to the expert blindness effect of having a deep body of knowledge in a field, I don’t see it block innovation. Most organisations involve multiple (knowledge) perspectives in their innovation processes, ranging from experts, production, marketing to customers. At least they will have extensive market research and field testing to overcome the issues Anthony is pointing at.