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Fearless Innovation, a book review

by Mark P. McDonald  |  July 21, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

Fearless Innovation by Alex Goryachev purports itself to be a ‘no non-sense guide’ without buzzwords and the normal stuff that clutters books on innovation.  In my opinion the book does not meet the aspirations of its cover.  A guide is one that helps people to think through their innovation challenges, provides tools to help people see themselves in an innovative environment and to provide experience and insight.  This book largely consists of a general call for innovation and a review of its merits.

If you have read other books about innovation, then you have read much of what is in here.  Skip this book.  If you are new to innovation, then this is a decent place to start, but recognize that you will be left thinking, ok now what?

The book’s chapters cover well-worn ground in the innovation space.

  • Chapter 1:  Innovation is now or never.  A restatement of the ‘innovate or die’ argument
  • Chapter 2: No Leadership = No Strategy = No Innovation.  Discussing the leadership and cultural requirements necessary to make a ‘company safe for innovation.’
  • Chapter 3: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  Stories of metrics and incentive measures.
  • Chapter 4: Innovation is not disruption.  This is the BEST chapter, reflecting some insight and representing the reality of organizations facing the need to change.  I wish the book was more like this chapter.
  • Chapter 5: The lonely innovator myth.  Stories of individuals who invent things, but the teams of people required for innovation.
  • Chapter 6: Innovation wants to be free.  A reminder of the importance of open styles / attitudes toward innovation.
  • Chapter 7: Outcomes must be orchestrated.  Should have been another ‘best’ chapter but it quickly dissolves into a plea to hire or create the role of Chief Innovation Officer.  It is ironic that the role, while needed, too often creates an innovation czar and supporting team that is neither free, open or collaborative.
  • Chapter 8: Communicate, communicate, communicate.  This chapter covers the core of change management and organizational change imperatives.

Overall the book is more corporate speak, covering known ground and not providing the actionable insight one would expect from an established and accomplished chief innovation officer.

Recommended only if you do not know what innovation is, or if you have not read about it in other settings.

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Category: book-review  innovation  

Mark McDonald
VP Analyst
12 years at Gartner
33 years IT Industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program. Read Full Bio




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