The curse of knowledge

By Andy Zynga via blogs.hbr.org   Article

The Innovator Who Knew Too Much

“It is a profound irony that the more you know about a particular industry, and the more experience you gain in it, the more difficult it can be to move it forward with truly meaningful innovation. But it’s true, thanks to something known as “the curse of knowledge” — one of the most vexing cognitive biases identified by psychologists and behavioral economists. …

Cognitive biases are very human and arise from our need to make sense of a situation before deciding on a course of action. As we acquire, retain, and process relevant information, we filter it through the context of our own past experience, likes, and dislikes. Not surprisingly, with every subsequent challenge, our response is increasingly shaped by our knowledge of “how we’ve always done it.”

This is part of why open innovation is so powerful. By definition, it sources valuable ideas and inventions from outside the walls of an organization. That not only brings more brainpower to bear on a problem to be solved, it brings minds that are not constrained by industry conventions.

But if you think that by merely opting for open innovation you will escape the curse of knowledge, you may be wrong. Assumptions based on convention can still undermine the effort because, at the outset of any open innovation, someone has to communicate what is being sought.”

 

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