Please Stop Ideating


HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review

Surely it makes sense that the more ideas we have, the better our innovation track record will be. Not true, it turns out.

Firms that hold ideation sessions − those in which a group guided by outside consultants generate ideas for new products and services − generate little additional revenue from new offerings compared to those that don’t. That was a finding of a study of consumer-package-goods companies that I led.

How could this be? Aren’t more ideas better?

Actually, coming up with an idea turns out to be relatively easy; refining a concept until it becomes an economic success is the hard part. Consider this example: The first known claim of inventing a hand-held mobile phone was made in 1906. Yet it took another 70 years of development before one that actually worked was produced.

In fact, most companies have an abundance of ideas. At one firm with a particularly dismal record…

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