inBloom and the Failure of Innovation 1.0

Blog by Steven Hodas at The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE): “Michael Horn’s recent piece on the failure of inBloom captures why it was the very opposite of a disruptive innovation from a markets perspective, as well the fatal blind spots and judgment errors present from its inception.
inBloom was a textbook example of what I call “Innovation 1.0”, which thinks of innovation as a noun, a thing with transformative transitive properties that magically make its recipient “innovative.” It’s the cargo–cult theory of innovation: I give you this innovative thing (a tablet, a data warehouse, an LMS) and you thereby become innovative yourself. This Innovation 1.0 approach to both product and policy has characterized a great deal of foundation and Federal efforts over the past ten years.
But as Michael points out (and as real innovators and entrepreneurs understand viscerally), “innovation” is not a noun but a verb. It is not a thing but a process, a frame of mind, a set of reflexes. He correctly notes the essential iterative approach that characterizes innovation–as–a–verb, its make–something–big–by–making–something–small theory of action (this is fundamentally different from piloting or focus–grouping, but that’s another topic).
But it’s important to go deeper and understand why iteration is important. Simply, it is a means to bake into the process, the product, or the policy a respect for users’ subjectivity and autonomy. In short, functional iteration requires that you listen.
True, durable innovation, “Innovation 2.0” is not some thing I can give to you, do to you, or even do for you: it must be a process I do with you. Lean Startup theory—with its emphasis on iteration, an assumption of the innovator’s fallibility and limited perspective, and the importance of low–cost, low–stakes discovery of product–market fit that Michael describes—is essentially a cookbook for baking empathy into the development of products, services, or policies…..
That doesn’t mean inBloom was a bad idea. But the failure to anticipate its vehement visceral rejection—however misinformed and however cynically exploited by those with larger agendas—was a profound failure of imagination, of empathy, of the respect for user subjectivity that characterizes Innovation 2.0….(More).”