The Future Of Innovation : Review Of New Book.

Cover shot of The Future Of Innovation

Innovation is about the future. It’s about the new products and new services that will exist in the future. It’s about understanding what customers will want in the future and how businesses and organisations will need to change and grow their innovation capability in order to satisfy those customer needs of the future.

So if this is what we already know – where does a book about the future of innovation take us?

Bettina Von Stamm and Anna Trifilova have extensive experience of innovation and are widely respected in the field. Both have academic and consultancy credentials.

For The Future of Innovation they invited people from across the world involved in innovation, to give their thoughts on the future of innovation. The authors selected 200 of the responses to publish in the book. Those contributions that were not selected to go into print are included on the supporting website.

The Future Of Innovation should not be the first choice of text for managers looking for practical solutions on how to make their organisation more innovative. But there are plenty of texts around that fit that bill, so that’s OK.

Rather, The Future of Innovation is a text to dip into and reflect upon the thought provoking ideas of the 200 contributors. These include academics, consultants, researchers, scientists, senior executives.

The book is split into 14 sections in an attempt to cluster the diverse contributions in a way that provides a meaningful structure. The section headings include topics such as the drivers of innovation, through The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, It’s about People and A Question of Mindset.

There is a lot of information in this book – at almost 500 pages long, an almost overwhelming amount.

A More Innovative Presentation?

In reading it I was struck most noticeably that putting all this information into a standard book format gives it the appearance of an academic text. However, this is a book about ‘the future of innovation’ and it feels wrong that all I was seeing was page after page of black text on white paper. There are no pictures, no diagrams. This is a very un-innovative approach to the presentation and I found it, dare I say it a bit... dry.

This is not a research study into the future of innovation. As I understand it there was no questionnaire or direction given to the respondents, the material is therefore wholly subjective.I felt I would have liked to see that subjectivity, that creative thinking of the contributors and their visioning brought to life more vibrantly.

The content is good, it is interesting. However, there is a danger that not enough of it will be consumed by any single reader, nor will it stimulate the interest of enough potential readers - purely because of its uninspiring presentation.

I really believe the excellent content could be brought to a wider audience if it were repackaged in different ways – either on line, or in an e-book format containing relevant hyperlinks that I could read on an e-book reader.

I want consuming this book to be an experience of innovation. I want to experience a bit of the ‘future of innovation.’

Examples Make Innovation More Tangible

The book could also be improved by the contributors included more examples. Why does X think Y? What has he seen, felt, experienced in the now that causes him to believe that the future of innovation will unfold in the way he predicts.

Without such examples it feels a fairly conceptual read. Of course, that makes me use my imagination to envisage what the contributor is talking about. But am I imagining what she had in mind? I want to get closer to the contributors and their visions. Examples of what has stimulated their insights would really help.

For the business leader who is thinking long term about innovation in their organisation The Future of Innovation provides some useful stimulus and may introduce to them some new concepts and ideas.

For anyone who is wholly passionate and intrigued by the subject of innovation, I will stick my neck out and say there is so much here that there is bound to be something new for them – so it’s worth dipping into.

Score as a tool to assist innovation and growth in an organisation 3/5

The Future Of Innovation ( 502 pages) is published by Gower Publishing Ltd