A Review of “Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret”


Probably every leader, innovator, and entrepreneur wishes that success could be achieved by just rubbing the genie’s lamp.  But it just doesn’t work that way.  There is a labor associated with success and more often than not that journey towards success will be filled with more losses than with wins.  Pastor Larry Osborne, in his newest book, “Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret” attempts to expose the very real pitfalls that all-too-often befall innovators.


Our society places a high premium on success, or at least what it deems to be ‘success’.  And over the last decade there have been some important contributions to the genre that are designed to caution those that appear successful and encourage those that appear to be failures.  Like so much of life, there is a massive gray area that exists between the two camps of success and failure and very rarely, if ever, does an individual or business fall squarely into one camp or the other.

Pastor Osborne takes some lessons from his experiences as a pastor in Southern California to help illuminate the path that awaits those that desire to lead and innovate.  Warning: It is not a smooth path.  My two favorite chapters were on ‘Sabotaging Innovation’ and ‘Why Vision Matters’.  In the section on ‘Sabotaging Innovation’, Pastor Osborne warns of some of the very real dangers that are common to those that have experienced success…like letting success go to your head, being too worried about public opinion and the one-size-fits-all curse.  His wisdom is practical and his warnings are spot on.  In ‘Why Vision Matters’, he juxtaposes mission with vision and why they are different, but both still very valuable.  His criticism that all leaders have vision, but that too many of them are vague and undefined is accurate and symptomatic of organizations that are headed down the wrong path.

I have a couple of minor concerns about this book.  First, I am not sure how ‘innovative’ it is.  In the sense that Gladwell, Taleb, and a whole host of other authors in the past 10 to 20 years seem to cover much of this book.  Which is fine if the reader has never been exposed to the works of authors covering a similar vein.  But if the reader is well read in the area of leadership and innovation/failure, than much of this content may come off as old-hat.  Second, I am not sure I finished the work with a handful of solid takeaways.  I can tell you what it was about, but I leave without helpful anecdotes.  Which may be the author’s intent, I am not sure.

I recommend this book for pastors, leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs.  The book is an easy read filled with wisdom and proven methods.




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