1st Edition

Innovation Sucks! Time to Think Differently

By Alan Watkins, Simon May Copyright 2021
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    Businesses spend billions on innovation with very little to show for their investment or effort. This book challenges some of the ‘ingrained truths’ of innovation and suggests a different approach.

    Innovation is not the creation of a novel idea. It is the successful commercialisation of that novel idea. Rather than starting with a costly, time-consuming problem assessment that seeks to push potential solutions through an innovation funnel, an ‘impeller approach’ starts with possible solutions and gets the market to pull the best ones forward so they can fail fast or flourish fast. This approach is made possible by the addition of a ‘bee’ – a new type of integrative thinker who can harvest the existing knowledge from the ‘meadow of experts’. Completely reversing the innovation process means organisations are much better placed to win in the market rather than focusing on finding theoretical solutions or clearing innovation stage gates. In addition, this approach also recognises that the people who shepherd the solution through the ideation and testing stage are not the same people who must then take that solution to market for successful commercialisation.

    Given the current innovation failure rate, coupled with the fact that society is beset with multiple wicked problems, it’s time to think differently and innovate innovation itself. This book is essential reading for Heads of Innovation and Commercialisation, Directors of Marketing, Heads of New Product Development and New Service Development, Strategy Directors, Chief Technology Officers, Government advisers and policy makers.



    1. Traditional ‘Innovation’ & Why It Fails

    2. Focusing on the Problem may be the Problem


    3. Start with the Solution

    4. The Role of the Bee

    5. How to Identify and Create More Bees

    6. Other Players in the Innovation System

    7. Getting to Market

    8. Sale or Scale to Sustainable Growth

    9. The Impeller Future


    Alan Watkins is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of Complete – a consultancy that specialises in developing enlightened leadership through individual and team development. Alan is unusual in that he advises completely different businesses in totally different market sectors, in different geographies and works with many different types of businesses from innovative tech start-ups to FTSE 10 giants. He is the author of several successful books, including HR (R)Evolution: Change the Workplace, Change the World co-authored with Nick Dalton.

    Simon May is Managing Director and Co-Founder of Impeller Ventures which was set up to pioneer this type of novel approach to innovation. Impeller Ventures is also dedicated to tackling the huge waste that poor approaches to innovation create. With over 30 years of experience at the intersection of design, technology and business, Simon has developed brands, products, services, processes and business models for a range of organisations from start-ups, technology transfers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to corporates and multinationals across a range of geographies and sectors.

    "I hope this book acts as a wake-up call that engineers are the best and most inventive leaders, and provides greater understanding of the corrosive effect of so-called ‘experts’. Engineers look at things differently, solve problems, and develop ideas through naivety and experimentation. Ours is a life of risk and of failure, when we first try things they fail, but we gradually improve them and persevere. I think that this, as an approach to life, should be celebrated, nurtured and encouraged." - Sir James Dyson

    "Sadly, innovation still mainly consists of misused and misunderstood buzzwords, well-intentioned yet fruitless initiatives and snake-oil pedlars promising the panacea for all innovation ills. 'Innovation Sucks' shines a uniquely bright light into the four corners of innovation rethinking, innovation itself and providing novel frameworks that systematise successful commercialisation. A must-read for those bored with the hype who believe we need to revolutionise innovation."Jordan Schlipf, Founder, Rainmaker

    "I have said for years how we need to PULL customers with branding and emotion rather than PUSH to them with deals and discounting. This book blew my mind on how to create that pull. It literally rewrites how our brains see innovation. I have insisted it’s read by my entire team." Simon Beard, CEO, Culture Kings

    "Imagine a book that will help you truly transform your business, navigate the smoke and mirrors, plus give you a recipe for real innovation and growth. This is that book. In my business the early results are incredible."Simon Leslie, CEO, Ink Global

    "Innovation often fails because the corporate funnel or filtering machine and the people who put the ideas into the machine fail. In too many businesses the strategy department and the leadership team aren’t representative of their customers. This book reveals how we change the innovation machine and the machine operators to deliver a genuine business transformation." – Jeff Dodds, COO, Virgin Media

    "You could spend thousands of hours researching innovation and leadership or you could let one of the masters do it for you and read this book."Christina Bognet, CEO, Platejoy

    "This book is brilliant in showing the value of all people, including those that think differently about things. I will be sending a copy to the CEOs of my top 10 pension fund holdings! It will be the most sound investment I’ve made all year!" – Peter Needle, CEO, Segura