The Little Black Book of Innovation

"Innovation – something different that has impact – is both more important and more accessible than ever before."

- Little Black Book of Innovation, page 15

The Little Black Book of Innovation becomes exactly that, your personal cheat sheets and treasure map to a very important and valuable commodity everyone is searching for: innovation.

More than a simple primer to a complex topic, the author does an impressive job of distilling a huge body of knowledge on innovation into a relatively slim volume of what is most relevant and essential to know for a budding innovation practitioner.  Unlike some other innovation books, this book does not provide a comprehensive treatise or a unifying innovation framework – only solid grounding in key innovation principles, initial steps, and practical pointers in thinking and in action. Just enough to get you started and well on your way.

The first part of the book lays the foundation for starting “an innovation journey”. It systematically and succinctly takes the would-be innovator through defining innovation (“something different that has impact”), understanding the imperatives for innovation, being made aware of the different types of innovation (commercial, sustaining, transformational, disruptive), offering 4 major innovation principles for guidance (the Mount Rushmore of Innovation), warning of the 7 major innovation pitfalls to be prepared for (the 7 deadly sins), and outlining a short synopsis of the thinking and major contributions of 12 leading “masters of innovation”.

The book was written as part of Scott Anthony’s quest as an author and Managing Director of  Innosight, a leading global innovation consulting firm, to “make innovation a predictable discipline” and “make it more accessible”. The Little Black Book of Innovation delivers exactly that, in a step-by-step fashion, and will inspire would-be innovators to keep a well read copy of the book near at hand.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Innovation is attainable

"...there is a tremendous innovation energy within every individual and every company."
- Little Black Book of Innovation, page 9

The author repeatedly reinforces that you do not need to be intellectually superior, genetically predisposed, or a Jedi knight to become more innovative–just determined in solving your business challenges by seeking new paths. This is the single most important message for anyone involved in innovation and growing their business: build your creative confidence.

By providing clarity, unearthing patterns and principles, letting you know in advance where the main pitfalls are and offering a detailed roadmap, the book puts you into the right mindset. While it is clear that innovation is hard, by breaking it down and understanding the elements and steps involved, the author demonstrates how “innovation”–as a process–becomes eminently “doable”. Most importantly, he leaves you with a sense of courage. “There is nothing here that you cannot do.”

The book even ends with a challenge that all readers take the Innovator’s Pledge: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all have the ability to innovate, that they are endowed with certain unalienable capabilities, that among these are curiosity, creativity and the pursuit of growth.”

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Innovation's Seven Deadly Sins

"The seven deadly sins have very clear parallels in the world of innovation, serving as a useful and memorable way to highlight an innovator’s most common mistakes."
- Little Black Book of Innovation, page 71

The author equates the seven deadly sins to the major pitfalls that stand in the way of innovation success. He equates:

  1. Pride to overshooting the innovation target. Solution: Take an external viewpoint to understand client’s perspective.
  2. Sloth to not applying enough sweat to your innovation. Solution: Follow Edison’s formula of 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.
  3. Gluttony to slowing down innovation with too many resources. Solution: Start with less resources to push your creativity.
  4. Lust to bright shiny object syndrome. Solution: Keep focused on value.
  5. Envy to control and internal sniping that can derail innovation. Solution: Celebrate both core business and growth efforts.
  6. Wrath to punishing the wrong behaviors. Solution: Reward behavior, not outcomes.
  7. Greed to impatience for true growth to materialize. Solution: Be patient for growth and impatient for results.

While Pride, Sloth, Lust, Greed can trip up all innovators, Envy, Wrath and Gluttony are particularly troublesome within large companies. Being mindful of these traps (along with the book’s advice on how to avoid each of them) can help would-be innovators not to be pulled off course. Being forewarned and forearmed goes a long way to meeting your innovation challenge head-on with confidence.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The 28-Day Challenge

"Innovation is a process that combines discovering an opportunity, blueprinting an idea to seize that opportunity, and implementing that idea to achieve results."
- Little Black Book of Innovation, page 17

Innovation is a process and can only be learned by doing. The second part of the book shows you what innovation actually looks like by challenging the reader to walk through a precise roadmap and, in so doing, demonstrate that the budding innovator can make it happen.

The 28-day Challenge is broken down into the 4 main components of the innovation process, then further broken down into daily steps and tips in achieving each component:

Week 1: Discovering Opportunities for Innovation
Week 2: Blueprinting Innovative Ideas
Week 3: Assessing and Testing Ideas
Week 4: Moving Forward

The author outlines through this 4 week challenge that innovation can be reinforced in your business life in 7 simple ways:

  1. Triple your time with customers.
  2. Routinely ask Why? Why not? and What if?
  3. Run a cheap, easy experiment every day.
  4. Always look for ways to keep learning without spending money.
  5. Get to the intersections of ideas and people.
  6. Call the most iconoclastic person you know and ask to be introduced to the most iconoclastic person they know.
  7. Teach a friend 3 key innovation lessons.


The Little Black Book of Innovation is a book of elementary principles and practical guidance on how to become more innovative and squeeze the greatest commercial value from the effort. It provides a roadmap of how to proceed with clarity and purpose.  Along the way, the author also does a great job of using visual analogies (i.e. Mt Rushmore and the 7 deadly sins) as a technique, along with others,  to make the book’s lessons more accessible and memorable.

Scott D. Anthony has written an essential innovation primer for the purpose of practical application by anyone in any industry who needs new solutions to major business challenges.

What are your major personal constraints in being more innovative?

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Bill Hortz

ABOUT Bill Hortz

I’m an independent consultant and business catalyst focused on the game-changing nature of strategic thinking, innovation creation and strategic account management...
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