The Innovator’s Book: A book review by Bob Morris

The Innovator’s Book: Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators 
Max Mckeown
LID Publishing Ltd. (January 2020)

All humanity is part of whatever comes next. Innovators can make it better.

In his latest book, Max Mckeown asserts that innovation “is about practical creativity. It’s about making new ideas into something useful. Innovators do this work. They make the previously impossible possible.”

Moreover, “Culture is the sum total of the values, beliefs, assumptions, and traditions of an organization.”

More specifically:

o “Culture develops based on the experiences of the people in the organization. It is not the same as a neatly typed mission statement and cannot be transferred with half-hearted attempts or superficial declarations.”

o “There are differences in character, rhythm, preferences, traditions, jokes, discipline and priorities between the most successful innovative organizations and the rest.”

o “Great insights into practical solutions are the result of what is done and how it is done.”

o “Making the tradition to an innovation culture is tricky because it doesn’t depend on policies or processes in isolation. But, if you embrace complexity, encourage curiosity, ditch dogma, share power, and give people new experiences, they will change their behaviour. And over time this behaviour will become sustainable.”

These brief comments suggest the thrust and flavor of Mckeown’s thinking.

Although in what is technically categorized as a “business book,” the information insights, and counsel provided in The Innovator’s Book indicate that McKeown has created a manifesto, a call to arms, and an operations manual accompanied by support resources that can help almost anyone to help almost any organization to achieve three separate but interdependent objectives: “Make new ideas useful and old ideas better in new ways,”  “build a bigger brain — to be part of people who creatively nurture new ideas,” and “help beautiful new ideas to be successful — to guide, protect, and help them to win friends, victories, and a place in the world.”

Those who embrace Mckeown’s challenge must be fully aware of the resistance that change initiatives are certain to encounter. Those who now defend the status quo were probably involved in efforts to eliminate the one it replaced. Never underestimate what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Mckeown suggests these key points:

o Innovators nurture.
o If you develop an insight, it becomes an idea.
o If you put your idea into practice, it becomes an invention.
o If your invention is useful to someone then the innovation has become an innovation.
o If innovation creates new problems then we will just have to create new solutions.
o If the innovation improves the human condition then perhaps we have made progress.
o Some innovations are incremental, some are radical and some combine to produce resolutions with huge, far-reaching impact.

“That’s why innovators so passionately nurture new ideas.”

I think this is Mckeown’s most valuable book (thus far) because I expect it to have the widest and deepest impact, especially today when the world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall. The need for positive and productive engagement is greater now than ever before.

Hillel the Elder posed the challenge this way: “If not now, when?” And Max Mckeown then asks, ‘If not rebels, mavericks, and innovators,  who?”


Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.