The Innovator’s Hypothesis Book Summary - The Innovator’s Hypothesis Book explained in key points
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The Innovator’s Hypothesis summary

Michael Schrage

How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More than Good Ideas

3.8 (52 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

The Innovator's Hypothesis by Michael Schrage explores how successful innovators experiment with new ideas rather than relying on creativity alone. It offers practical tools for testing and validating ideas, helping entrepreneurs and creators become more effective and efficient.

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    The Innovator’s Hypothesis
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    Business innovation is shifting away from costly research and development to inexpensive experimentation.

    True progress is made when people introduce new and novel ideas. Remember what life was like before the telephone was invented? Okay, probably not – but it forever changed the way people communicate.

    This kind of world-changing innovation continues to take place; it’s just happening in a different way.

    It used to be well-funded research and development (R&D) departments that created innovative ideas and products. These days, however, innovation is coming from businesses that expand upon successful small-scale experiments.

    This shift is taking place because the traditional R&D model – a lengthy research phase followed by a team of experts developing an idea from scratch – has proved too complex and costly. This old model can lead to innovation, but it takes massive amounts of analysis and financial assistance.

    Just consider how much planning and money went into making a basic prototype for a hybrid car or HD television.

    And for every revolutionary product, there are many more ideas that never see the light of day. In fact, an R&D team might spend millions doing market research only to abandon the idea after it tests poorly with consumers.

    For these reasons, innovation is now the result of businesses conducting scalable experiments that are inexpensive, simple and less time consuming.

    Businesses are moving away from the costly analysis of R&D teams to conduct small-scale experiments that test a business hypothesis, or innovative idea, using a variation of the scientific method.

    Take the innovative ideas behind Windows or the Mac, for example: You might think it was one genius idea that launched these products, but, in reality, each was the result of inexpensive experiments, step-by-step tinkering and imaginative prototypes.

    This is exactly the kind of innovation that is catching on today: starting out with small-scale, cheap experiments, and then scaling up the development process if the results turn out to be successful.

    In the next blink, we’ll take a closer look at this modern method and find out how businesses are conducting these experiments.

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    Key ideas in The Innovator’s Hypothesis

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    What is The Innovator’s Hypothesis about?

    The Innovator’s Hypothesis (2014) shows us how modern innovation no longer comes from big, costly, time-intensive research and development departments. These days, the innovation process is different. Big ideas come from business experiments being quickly conducted by small teams at little cost. It’s time to get on board and find out how your business can adapt for the future – before it’s too late!

    The Innovator’s Hypothesis Review

    The Innovator’s Hypothesis by Michael Schrage (2014) is an enlightening exploration of how innovation happens and how to make it work. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a refreshing take on innovation by focusing on hypothesis-driven experimentation and learning, providing a practical framework for bringing ideas to life.
    • The book offers numerous real-world examples and case studies, demonstrating how successful innovators use experimentation to create breakthrough products and services.
    • With its engaging storytelling and thought-provoking insights, the book makes the subject of innovation exciting and motivating, ensuring that readers won't find it boring.

    Best quote from The Innovator’s Hypothesis

    Big companies like big projects, not little experiments. – Chinese telecom manager

    —Michael Schrage
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    Who should read The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

    • Futurists interested in how the next big idea will emerge
    • Innovators interested in lean and agile systems of creativity
    • Entrepreneurs trying to think outside the box

    About the Author

    Michael Schrage is an advisor and consultant on innovative risk management. He is also a research fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management for Digital Business as well as an in-demand speaker on innovation and business experiments.

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    The Innovator’s Hypothesis FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

    The main message of The Innovator’s Hypothesis is that successful innovation requires testing and learning, not just creativity.

    How long does it take to read The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

    The reading time for The Innovator’s Hypothesis varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Innovator’s Hypothesis a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Innovator’s Hypothesis is a valuable read for anyone interested in innovation. It provides practical insights and a fresh perspective on the process of experimentation and learning.

    Who is the author of The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

    The author of The Innovator’s Hypothesis is Michael Schrage.

    What to read after The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Innovator’s Hypothesis, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Testing Business Ideas by David J. Bland and Alexander Osterwalder
    • Innovation for the Fatigued by Alf Rehn
    • Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn
    • Dear Founder by Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler
    • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
    • What Matters Now by Gary Hamel
    • Think Again by Adam Grant
    • Gut Check by Steven R. Gundry
    • The Design Thinking Workbook by CJ Meadows
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin