A few weeks ago, I wrote a post using quotes from “ Moneyball “ (the movie, not the book) to describe the experience of trying to innovate within a corporate setting.

It was great fun to write, I received tons of feedback, and had many fascinating conversations (plus a fact check on the year the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino), so I started searching for other movies that inadvertently but accurately describe the journey of corporate innovators.

The Princess Bride

If you have not seen The Princess Bride, stop reading and immediately go watch it. Seriously, there is nothing more…


Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

Of all the facets of innovation, innovation metrics may be the most requested, studied, and debated.

This is not surprising given that companies need to justify the billions of dollars they spend every year on “innovation” and the best way to do that is through a sound set of metrics with proven predictive power and relevant benchmarks.

However, despite the need, and decades of work to address it, a satisfying answer to “what innovation metrics should we use?” is as elusive as ever.

The key word there is “satisfying”

Innovation metrics exist. There are probably hundreds of them.

Innovation metrics are in use. …


Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

We all love Innovation but there are times when it isn’t the answer. In fact, there are times when it is the absolute last thing a business should do.

Do NOT innovate if:

  1. Your current business is declining
  2. You need immediate results
  3. You want to play it safe and follow rather than lead
  4. You’re afraid of losing customers
  5. You’re afraid of falling behind the competition
  6. You’re getting pressure from shareholders
  7. You want to hang out with famous CEOs/be on TV and the cover of magazines
  8. You read an article/book/had a conversation and it doesn’t seem that hard
  9. You want to do something fun/different/exciting/noteworthy
  10. You…

“Fall in love with the problem not the solution.”

Although not as well-known as other innovation mantras like “Fail Fast” and “See around corners,” this mantra is, in my experience, truer than any of them. It is also harder to follow.

It’s hard to fall in love with a problem.

By the time most of us enter the workforce, we are Do-ers. Our bosses train us to bring solutions, not problems. Our employers reward us for showing initiative, taking action, and resolving issues. We celebrate when we find the answer, crack the case, and drive the change.

We have stopped being Questioners, Wonderers, and Explorers. We stopped asking “Why?”…


“You are a salmon.”

This was not the career advice I hoped for.

After months of tests, quizzes, career counseling sessions, and peer support groups, I was sitting in the expansive wood-paneled office of Harvard Business School’s Head of Career Services, eagerly anticipating learning what my ideal career would be. I did not expect to be told that I was a fish.

“You are only happy when you are rebelling against something. You are a salmon. Whatever you choose to do, you must swim upstream.”

This did not sound like a recipe for the peaceful, easy, frictionless career that I…


By Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov — http://lj.rossia.org/users/john_petrov/166993.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2649874

On leather steeds they ride

They’ve come to take your life

On through the dead of night

With The Four Horsemen ride

Or choose your fate and die

- “The Four Horsemen” by Metallica

“The Four Horsemen” has been used as an analogy to describe everyone from Notre Dame football players to Supreme Court Justices, and referenced in books for everything from dealing with addiction to relationship counseling.

There are also Four Horsemen that foretell the end of innovation in a company

The White Horse: Short Term-ism

Like Conquest, Short Term-ism wears a crown and is hailed as a bringer of victory, prosperity, and health. After all, the only thing better than hitting your…


Last week, pitchers and catchers reported to MLB Spring Training facilities in Florida and Arizona. For baseball fans, this is the first sign of Spring, an occasion that heralds months of warmth and sunshine, ballparks filled (hopefully) with cheering fans, dinners of beers and brats, and the undying belief that this year will be the year.

Of course, there’s still a lot of dark, dreary cold between now and Opening Day. Perfect weather for watching baseball movies — Bull Durham, Major League, The Natural, Field of Dreams, and, of course, Moneyball.

Moneyball is based on the book of the same…


When was the last time you heard any of these?

“We don’t have time”

“Our people don’t have the skills”

“We don’t have the budget”

“That’s not what we do”

I hear them all the time.

Sometimes they’re said when a company is starting to invest in building their innovation capabilities, sometimes during one-on-one stakeholder interviews when people feel freer to share their honest opinions, and sometimes well after investments have been made.

Every single time, they are the beginning of the end for innovation.

But one word that can change that.

“We don’t have time — yet.”

“Our people…


“The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expected different results.”

This quote, often (wrongly) attributed to Albert Einstein, is a perfect description of what has been occurring in corporate innovation for the last 20+ years.

In 1997, The Innovator’s Dilemma, put fear in the hearts of executives and ignited interest and investment in innovation across industries, geographies, and disciplines. Since then, millions of articles, thousands of books, and hundreds of consultants (yes, including MileZero) have sprung forth offering help to startups and Fortune 100 companies alike.

Yet the results remain the same.

After…


Companies love to invest in idea generation — challenges, hackathons, software platforms to collect and sort submissions.

Companies do not love the ROI of these investments because they require a lot of money and time and the ideas rarely become real and create value.

But one company is doing it right and they are loving the early results.

This morning I chatted with a graduate of the Intrapreneurship Academy that I teach in partnership with The Cable Center. It was the kind of life-affirming call that consultants rarely get to enjoy, one that is evidence that the work you do matters to both people and businesses.

During the program, he focused on solving a…

Robyn Bolton

Founder & Chief Navigator at MileZero, Growth & Innovation Expert, People & Business Builder, Complexity Buster

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