Let me paint a picture for you. Picture a young, bright-eyed entrepreneur named Bob. Bob’s got this groundbreaking idea. The sort of idea that gets him so excited he can hardly sleep at night. He’s got this vision of instant success – think meteoric rise, Forbes covers, you get the drift. In Bob’s mind, innovation is the golden ticket to a straight shot at success.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Bob launches his innovation to the world, expecting the seas to part and success to come rolling in like a high tide. But instead of an open freeway, he finds himself on a twisted mountain road, filled with unexpected potholes and sharp turns. There were challenges and setbacks Bob didn’t anticipate. Market resistance, supply chain nightmares, financial hurdles, personnel attrition – the whole enchilada.

And as our friend Bob navigates these challenges, he has a eureka moment – innovation isn’t some straight highway to the land of milk and honey. It’s a wild, twisted journey – think more along the lines of Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom than a Sunday afternoon drive.

So why are we talking about Bob? Well, because his story is a reality check, a mirror that reflects the distortion in our perception of innovation. We’ve been sold on this idea of innovation being a shiny, one-way street to progress. But anyone who’s been in the trenches, like Bob, or like me, can tell you – that’s a load of baloney. Innovation is a twisted, winding path that requires endurance, resilience, and the ability to pivot and adapt on the fly.

So, buckle up. We’re about to take a deep dive into the world of innovation, dissecting its glamour, understanding its complexities, and busting some stubborn myths along the way. It’s going to be one heck of a ride, but remember, as our pal Bob learned, it’s not about the destination – it’s about the journey. And who doesn’t love a good adventure, right?

The Glamorization of Innovation

Oh boy, let’s talk about the glamour of innovation. It’s like that shiny new toy, everyone wants a piece of it. You invent something new, something groundbreaking, and voila! You’re the new Elon Musk, the darling of the tech world, featured on every magazine cover from here to Timbuktu. It’s all very Hollywood, isn’t it?

But let’s cut the crap and talk real for a minute. Innovation isn’t some magical spell that instantly catapults you into the realm of billion-dollar valuations and red carpet events. Far from it. You know what it is? It’s sweat, grit, sleepless nights, and relentless perseverance. It’s a battle royale where only the strongest, the most resilient, survive.

Yet, society and media have us believing otherwise. We’re bombarded with stories of so-called ‘overnight successes,’ and we swallow them hook, line, and sinker. What we don’t see is the blood, sweat, and tears that go on behind the scenes. The countless failures, the dead ends, the heartbreaking setbacks – they’re conveniently swept under the red carpet.

So why does this misconception persist? Well, it’s all about perception. Consider innovation like a game of Frisbee. It looks simple, doesn’t it? You throw the disc, it glides through the air, lands perfectly in your partner’s hands. Easy peasy. But anyone who’s ever tried their hand at Frisbee knows it’s anything but. You’ve got to adjust your throw to the wind, to the angle, to the distance. It’s a constant process of trial and error, adjustment and readjustment. And that, my friends, is the true nature of innovation.

We must understand that this glamourized image of innovation is like a mirage in the desert. It might look alluring from a distance, but as you get closer, the reality hits you hard. The process of innovation is not a linear journey. It’s a series of twists and turns, ups and downs, trials and triumphs. And the sooner we accept this reality, the better equipped we’ll be to navigate the labyrinth that is the path to true innovation.

Innovation: A Labyrinth, Not a Highway

Alright, here’s where we start getting our hands dirty. When we talk about innovation, most people picture a highway – a straight, smooth, open road leading directly to the promised land of progress and success. But let me tell you, if innovation were a road, it wouldn’t be a highway. It would be more like a labyrinth – full of twists and turns, dead ends, confusing junctions, and unexpected surprises.

What, did you think innovation was some sort of walk in the park? Nah, it’s more like a blindfolded trek through the Amazon rainforest. One minute you’re on a clear path, and the next, you’re facing a wall of thorny bushes. You think you’re making headway, and then, bam, you hit a dead end. You need to retrace your steps, find a new path, and start over. But here’s the catch – every setback, every failure, every wrong turn – it’s all part of the process. And the more you embrace this labyrinth, the more you learn, adapt, and grow.

Let’s bust that myth of straight-line progress, shall we? Innovation isn’t about going from point A to point B in a straight line. It’s about meandering, exploring, trying different paths, and learning from the journey. It’s about embracing the chaos, the uncertainty, and finding joy in the winding road.

Remember, in a labyrinth, every turn, every twist, every backtrack is a learning opportunity. When you hit a dead end, it’s not a signal to give up; it’s an invitation to try a new direction, to adapt and innovate. The true essence of innovation lies not in achieving the end goal but in the journey of getting there.

Let’s not forget, the road to success is paved with failures. Every setback, every challenge is an opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow stronger. It’s these trials and tribulations that separate the wheat from the chaff, the truly innovative from the mere dreamers.

So, next time you think of innovation, don’t imagine a highway. Picture a labyrinth – complex, challenging, unpredictable, but oh, so rewarding.

Learning to Ride the Innovation Bike

Alright, strap in, folks. We’re going for a bike ride. Now, you remember the first time you hopped on a bike, right? If you’re anything like me, you didn’t just glide off into the sunset. Nah, there were scraped knees, bruised egos, and perhaps even a few tears shed. Sound familiar?

Innovation is a lot like learning to ride a bike. No one nails it on the first try. If they tell you they did, they’re yanking your chain. Seriously, no one springs from the womb ready to pop wheelies. It takes time, practice, and a whole lot of falling down and getting back up again.

You see, the falls, the skinned knees, the tears – that’s the process of learning. The first fall teaches you balance, the second one control, and the third one, the importance of wearing a helmet, maybe? The point is, each fall, each failure, is a valuable lesson in disguise.

Innovation is no different. It’s not about launching a perfect product right out of the gate. It’s about launching, learning from the feedback, adjusting, and then relaunching. Rinse and repeat. It’s about having the guts to get back on the bike after a fall, dust yourself off, and pedal on.

You see, the most successful innovators aren’t the ones who never fail; they’re the ones who never quit. They understand that setbacks are a natural part of the innovation process. They see each challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. They’re not afraid to skin their knees, bruise their egos, or even shed a few tears in the pursuit of innovation.

So, next time you’re facing a setback, don’t see it as a failure. See it as a fall from the bike. And what do you do when you fall off a bike? You get back on, you learn, you adapt. Because that’s how you ride the bike of innovation, folks. You pedal on, regardless of the falls, the scrapes, and the bumps along the way.

Reframing our Perception of Innovation

Alright, let’s get real here. We need to reframe our perception of innovation. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the adventure. It’s not about finding the exit of the maze; it’s about the twists, the turns, the dead-ends and the little victories you find along the way. It’s about embracing the uncertainty, weathering the challenges, and savoring the setbacks. Yeah, you heard me right, savoring the setbacks. Because each setback is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to learn, grow and get better.

You see, innovation isn’t a straight-line progression. It’s a beautiful, twisted journey of trial and error. It’s about venturing into the unknown, taking risks, and not being afraid to fall flat on your face. Because guess what? That’s where the real learning happens. In the messy, uncomfortable, wonderfully chaotic process of trial and error.

We need to stop romanticizing innovation as a glamorous, effortless process. It’s not. It’s hard work, and it’s messy. But guess what? That’s what makes it so damn rewarding. When you finally make a breakthrough after countless setbacks and failures, when you finally find a path through the maze, it’s a feeling like no other.

So, let’s change the narrative. Let’s start celebrating the process, not just the product. Let’s applaud the innovators who aren’t afraid to admit their failures, who embrace their setbacks and use them as stepping stones to success.

Innovation isn’t about reaching the end; it’s about the journey. It’s about the ride. The adventure. It’s about appreciating the beauty in the twisted journey of trial and error. It’s about staying true to yourself, being unique, and not being afraid to challenge the status quo.

So next time you hear the word ‘innovation’, don’t just think of shiny, new things and straight-line progress. Think of the maze, the setbacks, the challenges. Think of the twisted journey of trial and error. And remember, the journey is the progress.


So, there you have it folks. Innovation isn’t the glossy, one-way highway to success that we’re so often led to believe it is. Nah, it’s a labyrinth, a bike ride, a beautiful, twisted journey of trial and error. And guess what? That’s the magic of it. The journey is the progress. The adventure is the reward.

It’s high time we ditch this shiny, straight-line vision of innovation. It’s not doing us any favors. Instead, let’s embrace the winding road, the maze, the labyrinth. Let’s celebrate the process, the journey, the setbacks, and the challenges.

Innovation isn’t about avoiding failure; it’s about learning from it. It’s not about reaching the end; it’s about the journey. The ride. The adventure. So, embrace the uncertainty, the unknown, the setbacks. Because each one is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to learn, grow, and get better.

Remember, the most successful innovators aren’t the ones who never fail; they’re the ones who never quit. They’re the ones who dust themselves off, get back on the bike, and pedal on. So, don’t be afraid to skin your knees, bruise your egos, or even shed a few tears in the pursuit of innovation. Because that’s where the real learning happens.

So next time you find yourself in the labyrinth of innovation, don’t panic. Don’t look for the exit. Instead, embrace the maze, the twists and turns, the dead-ends and setbacks. Because that’s the real path to progress. Not some glossy, straight line, but a beautiful, twisted journey of trial and error.

Stay authentic, stay unique, and don’t be afraid to get a little twisted in your journey to progress. After all, the journey is the progress.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.