The company needs continuous incremental improvements to keep the core business competitive, and discontinuous breakthroughs to shift direction and take or maintain leadership in the industry.[i] To innovate reliably, a crucial investment is learning well how your people listen to others. Listening is one of those activities where almost everyone thinks they know what they are doing, and almost no one really does. The normal prescriptions about listening – listening without preconceptions, being open, and checking on what you heard – it turns out, really do not work. We all listen with preconceptions, whether we know it or not. The average listening of intelligent people works well when you are dealing with things that have been invented a long time before, and are stable and well-understood. When you are innovating, however, average listening is a major and debilitating weakness. Reliable innovation begins with the design of the kind of listening that will be the foundation for the innovation.