Three Myths About Innovation

3 min read

Innovation is universally acknowledged as a critical element in the growth and success of any organization. Yet there is continued resistance to innovation for a variety of reasons including the perceived safety of the status quo and a fear of the unknown. Adding to this resistance are several pervasive myths about the innovative process that serve as obstacles to embracing innovation. I thought I would take a moment to debunk three of the biggest myths around innovation in the hope that this will ease the reluctance around incorporating innovation into your organization. 

Myth #1 – Innovation is only for a specialized few

There is an image of the “innovator” as a kind of mad scientist with a mystical connection to creativity that allows them to pull ideas and inspiration out of thin air. In my work with organizations, I’ve come to expect that I’ll be told by high-performing executives that they’re not creative. I’m convinced, however, that we’re all creative and that creativity is simply a matter of giving the proper tools to bright, accomplished individuals in order for them to succeed. All children are creative and it’s only when the emphasis gets placed on productivity that people tend to let their creative muscles atrophy. The good news is that with practice and intention, innovation is simply another skill we can all nurture and develop.

Myth #2 – Innovators have to go it alone

When I ask participants in my songwriting/innovation workshops what concerned them the most when they were told they’d be writing a song, I almost always hear that they were afraid they’d have to write the song on their own. I’ve found that this is the analogous fear that executives face when they think about innovation. The reality is that collaboration is a significant part of the innovative process. It is specifically the work of diverse teams  and individuals that gives innovation its breadth and depth. On top of leveraging different talents and abilities to bring new and interesting perspectives to the process, collaboration quite simply makes innovation less daunting. Knowing you can rely on others as well as yourself to come up with new ideas and approaches makes the entire process significantly less forbidding.

Myth #3 – Innovation has to happen all at once

One of my favorite expressions when it comes to the tackling of seemingly monolithic tasks is “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” Of course innovation will feel daunting if the expectation is that a solution be found immediately. The reality is that any innovation project can be broken down into its component parts and achieved one small step at a time. This is precisely what I demonstrate to my workshop participants when I break down the “impossible” task of writing a song into metaphor, verse and chorus. All of a sudden, the stunned and concerned expressions change to those of focus and delight as the songs begin to take shape.


Innovation is one of those words that conjures a preset series of beliefs that can end the conversation even before it begins. It has become my mission – by bringing songwriting to organizations in need of a new way to think about innovation – to demystify the innovative process. Hopefully by removing some of the false ideas around how innovation is achieved, I can open minds to the possibility that we’re all much more capable of innovation than we might believe.


Find out more about Cliff’s innovation & creativity workshops for business teams and organizations.

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