The vital importance of innovation in today's competitive climate has been widely canvassed. But while the need for more innovation is intensively proclaimed, the response for some time now has been widely regarded as falling well short of what is required. In other words, there is and has long been a perceived "innovation problem" in the UK and of course in many other countries. There is a large literature exploring the barriers to innovation and this has identified a whole array of factors ranging from the macro-level (such as a tendency towards short-termism) to the micro-level (including personality traits and team characteristics). This article reports the results from a new extensive study which addresses the "problem" by attending to the perceptions, assumptions, interpretations and cognitions of managers — i.e. those actors who determine organisational priorities and who make crucial resource allocation decisions. These managerial ways of seeing have vital consequences for organisational innovation. This article reports on the marked variety of managerial interpretations of innovation; it presents new ways of classifying these and it describes the practical implications of these insights.