What are the Limits of Innovation?

Limits of InnovationWe are living in a time when most science fiction fantasy seem possible. After all, we are living in the world of bionic limbs, stem cell research, and artificial intelligence. Because of all this, sometimes it seems like there’s nothing we can’t do. But is that true? What are the limits of innovation?

Innovation leaders sometimes define innovation as the intersection of desirability, feasibility, and viability. This working definition is sometimes the criteria used to rank order promising ideas. But it’s also useful in thinking about the limits of innovation.


This is probably one of the fundamental components of innovation and one of the key value adds of a system like IdeaScale. Assessing desirability in the form of votes (or sometimes in volunteer resources or money or by using other methods) is a great way to find out if an idea has legs. Even if it’s an interesting idea, but it’s not very popular, then it’s unlikely to find an audience willing to spend their time or money on it and the idea won’t last and it reaches the limits of innovation.


If you simply can’t achieve the core components of an idea, then you reach the limits of innovation. For example, it would be a great idea to solve crimes by downloading the last 20 minutes of thoughts from a victim’s brain. Unfortunately, that technology does not exist…. (but maybe it’ll be next year’s runaway sci-fi hit on Netflix?) Of course, feasibility isn’t always just about global capabilities, but your capabilities as an organization. Do you have the talent and track record to be able to deliver on any given idea – if not, you’ve reached your innovation limit.


Perhaps the most nebulous quality to define, but also one of the most important if an innovation is going to have lasting impact. If your idea is associated with a fad rather than a persistent trend or certain laws or regulations eclipse the idea’s potential, then you have reached the limits of innovation.

How do you conceive of the limits of innovation?

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