Hey, thanks for wanting to read our book! This was the first time either of us had attempted writing at this scale. On the one hand, we’re thrilled with the impact the book has had, and the positive feedback we’ve gotten from innovation colleagues and newcomers alike.

On the other hand, re-reading the text recently revealed some rough spots. We know we need to polish the text, address some dated examples, and smooth out our two voices. We’ve also learned a lot from colleagues, clients, and users in the intervening half-decade, and our knowledge of the process and practices of innovation has deepened–as has (we hope!) our ability to clearly articulate it. Sharing this content with you here is part of a healthy process of iteration. So, for each chapter, we’ll start out with our assessment what we think is working—and where we particularly want your help. Of course, everything is fair game, but hopefully this commentary will let you know where our focus is.

What seems to be working

  • We deliberately chose a conversational and friendly tone—the way we’d explain innovation to a friend. We hope it feels accessible and natural, but you tell us: as we revise and smooth out the writing, how should we adjust it? Are there any models that you’d suggest we look at?
  • We think the overall Naked Innovation model—the 13 boxes and circles—accurately represents the process and thinking behind the approach. But see below, because we could also envision a different structure.

Areas that need work and feedback

  • The overall organization of the book could be put into some simpler, larger categories. Several other innovation models we’ve looked at use three or four broad phases, which can be subdivided. Would that make it easier to follow along or is the process as outlined clear?
  • Is there anything you see that we’ve missed including? The purpose of the book being a primer requires us to be broad, not deep. But, have we missed any key concepts we should introduce at the table of contents level?
So what do you think? We know you’ll identify plenty of ways the book can evolve and become more useful to people. We’d love your feedback–and your collaboration as we iteratively refine the text. Download the book introduction now. If you’ve already done so, take a look at Chapter 1–The Innovation Equation–where we define innovation as a product of the complimentary activities of producing vision and invention.
  • Erik Almenberg

    Generally a great fan of the book and I love that you are crowdsourcing feedback! Here are a couple of points that could be improved IMHO.

    1) Have one entry to the book. I’m one of those people who think that books should be easy to enter. My impulse is therefore to remove “Preface” to make “Introduction” the single natural starting point. I would move the two first paragraphs from “Preface” to “Introduction”, and move the rest to the end of the book. I like those first two paragraphs because they contain a one-sentence description of what you mean by the fuzzy word innovation and sets expectations for reading the book.

    2) Make the Naked Innovation model more accessible. I think there are several opportunities for this, for instance:

    - Label the parts of the Naked Innovation model more consistently. The current labels reflect a mix of verbs, nouns etc. If you want to describe the process I think it would be much clearer if the over-arching model was based on actions/verbs like “framing” etc. Currently only chapter 7 and 11 are named with gerunds (end with -ing). Names like “Innovation Intent 2.0″ describe an output, not an action. Action/verb-based or not, I think consistency would improve the model.

    - Because the Innovation Equation has such prominence in the book, maybe it should be (part of) the meta-structure for the process. Ie “Identifying opportunities” and “Developing offerings” would be two phases in the Naked Innovation model.

  • Michael Davis-Burchat

    Hi Zach, Hi David,
    Before I dive in, thanks for being so open about ‘the re-publishing’ and evolution of Naked Innovation.

    Your ‘naked’ introduction about innovation, to well, everybody, is appropriately welcoming – while describing the essential nature of an innovator’s work. I enjoy how the seven myths dismantle a range of aging stereotypes, and set the stage for an inclusive, logical approach for openly sharing intelligence. You mention that it can be done solo, but will be better for working in teams. I would encourage you to explain ways that people with noisy egos achieve unity when integrating multiple ways of speaking – and multiple intelligences.

    Additionally, as I read the introduction I can recall with empathy a number of workplace anxieties which are symptomatic of resistance to your explanation – about the approach that is modeled in the innovation equation:

    A. I have read that innovation planning – or whatever it is called – is ‘a procedural recipe that kills creativity’.
    B. But I am already ‘delivering great innovations’, why do I/we need your book?
    C. It seems like our company is the innovator, but our competitor keeps getting the recognition?
    D. How do I use this, if my company does not share a common vision, or a compelling one?
    E. Our company says it as all about ‘the new’ but it keeps on implementing ‘the norm’.
    F. We work in silos in my company; we never reach agreement what any term means, and spend so much of our time lost in unproductive debate.
    G. It seems we have no time in our workload for a different way of working, I have all of these power point decks to create for Monday.

    I wonder how you might refactor the introduction to ‘reduce uncertainties’ that innovators might have when they read it for the first time.

    Keep up the good work!

    • zparadis

      Incredible list of anxieties to work though. We might need some group therapy to get through them all. ;)

      A few of these are actually addressed in later chapters but I can see how a smart, pithy answer up front might comfort those who question the notion of the book.

      For the moment, we’ll have to take them away and think a bit more about it.

  • Alexa Curtis

    Great to be rereading this after all these years.

    Some thoughts:
    1. Update the examples…apple-tini’s, TIVO, and even Starbucks hardly qualify as inspiring examples of innovation now. Even the reference to “ponytailed creatives” feels foreign 6 years after writing.

    2. “Innovation has made things better, no question about it.” Is followed by examples of pain that innovation is causing people who fight the current of change. Innovation is both an offensive and defensive maneuver…might be worthwhile to address.

    3. Since the original writing, I feel that there has been a lot of backlash to the topic of innovation as it came and went as a buzzword. Probably worth addressing why the content of the book transends the backlash on the topic and why people should read it.

    4. Make the diagram bigger. Take up the whole page if you need to.

    5. Mention Elon Musk somewhere.

    • zparadis

      Makes tons of sense. Regarding each topic:

      1. Yeah, we’ll update examples wherever they seem stale, though Starbucks is still so innovative given how much they have already done. Also, if you have ideas for what new examples we could introduce to illustrate different frameworks, that would be FANTASTICS. We’re all ears.

      2. Yep. Agree it’s not just about those in pain. It is about embracing opportunity and playing defense when it comes to that.

      3. Agreed on this, and we are considering different ways to address it. I would point your gaze to Mike DB’s critique higher up the page where he identifies types of “resistance to thinking around innovation” and suggests we tackle them one by one. Would be great for you to check that out and build thoughts, as you see appropriate.

      4a. Bigger = better. Maybe we should make it red too? Makes sense. :)
      4b. Any thoughts to making it simpler, e.g. arranging it around the Innovation Equation, the double diamond or something else? I’ll be open and say I like how it is but I am interested to hear more on this point.
      5a, b, c. Yes, yes, yes.

  • Douglas Wills

    Hi Zach,

    I remember a story you told about how you were promoting a show at the House of Blues with the headliner Ghostface Killah ( ). You talked about how he was over 2 hours late and that you were frantically trying to keep a lid on the crowd of…let us say…testy hip-hop aficionados waiting for their esteemed Master of Ceremonies to take the stage…

    …Oh…you also had a wad of all the ticket proceeds bulging from your pockets [undisclosed amount] as you were walking around trying to keep the everyone from rioting. Not sure, but I recall obscenities being directed in your vicinity.

    Finally, Ghostface Killah showed. However, he had one drink request before he would take the stage. No problem you thought. All he wanted was some kinda not-very-masculine red sweet liqueur (I can’t remember the name). Of which, to your horror, could not be found anywhere at the House of Blues. Now, everyone in his crew was freaking, at which point Ghostface Killah blew a fuse…brought the room to a stand still…and in a creative stream of consciousness exclaimed in no-uncertain and poetic terms that he needed a drink! I think we were 4 hours late at this point and the crowd was ready to crack…

    Oh crap!

    Some how you managed to get Ghostface Killah a drink to his liking, he took the stage and you survived the night.

    The reason I relate your story is that I hope you can infuse into the book the need for people to step out of their comfort zone. Who knows what that is, but your Ghostface Killah story is way out of most people’s comfort zone. It certainly inspired me…though I don’t think I will be promoting hip hop concerts.

    The point being, you took a calculated risk, you survived and you learned something. Help others do the same.

    In closing, real stories inspire people…if you can build those into the book where appropriate, people will relate and learn.

    Not sure Ghostface is the right story…but you get the idea…

    If I didn’t get all the facts straight…sorry…never let the truth get in the way of a good story ;)

    • davidmcgaw

      Hey Doug–I really agree there’s power in real life stories. There’s even more power in stories that help people see the value of powering through risk and ambiguity to get to stuff on the other side. In my own experience of innovation, I probably have had almost zero experience with hip-hop artists–more typically, it’s with leaders and decisionmakers who have a lot on the line (professionally, certainly–but sometimes personally as well) and who feel keenly the need to deliver results. In that context, it’s not surprising that an untested innovation concept looks less attractive compared to a known quantity (maybe it’s a pricing study, or a line extension off an existing, successful product).

      Lots of good innovation happens when we step out of our comfort zones… whether that’s in creating an interactive experience for an enthusiastic crowd and the performing artist on stage, or in putting a half-baked idea on the table just to see what will happen. Even if that means some raised eyebrows or facepalms.

  • joegray

    Zach & David –

    As several folks have already mentioned, thanks for updating NI. Your work served as an invaluable guide in my early days at ID, and I continue to reference NI in client engagements. Further, it’s been a joy adapting NI to serve as the text for a full-semester course at IIT — the next edition is sure to inspire both undergraduate and graduate students of innovation and design methods for years to come.

    It’s taken me far too long to offer comments, but here goes . . .

    In re-reading the Introduction, I had a similar sentiment to that which Alexa identifies in her point #3. The revised intro should address both backlash to the term “innovation” as well as the oft-debated notion of “Design Thinking” and “Big D” design. Since the first edition of NI was published, these terms and their derivatives have become increasingly popular in business parlance, and have concurrently lost meaning. While I believe you intentionally steered clear of variants of the term “Design” in describing the NI approach in the original edition, addressing these terms is probably unavoidable these days . . . the many Design Thinking primers, MOOCs, and the documentary film “Design & Thinking” attest to this.

    Against this backdrop, a new edition of NI couldn’t come at a better time — NI always was about de-mystifying the innovation craze. Further, NI provides an approach that includes enduring principles and methods that were in play well before the buzzwords of present; take Porter’s 5 Forces, for example.

    RIP Chantico,

    • Zachary Jean Paradis

      You’re right. We have to tackle the “design thinking” thing head on. Touché.