What is Innovation ? : A Short Guide
When someone asks you “what is innovation?” what should you say? I think that you should have an answer that inspires whoever is asking. Why? Because, innovation is a storytelling driver for change and continuous improvement. It’s the reason that inspires people to work in companies where creativity and innovation can happen. Whatever you say as an employee, team leader or a CEO, innovation should be explained like a corporate culture dogma. So if you’re asked about innovation be ready to give a clear answer related to the way your organization innovation management works.
Innovation is the creation of a sustainable new offering. But it isn’t that easy
Through the overuse, the misapplication and the enthusiasm people have for innovation, this word is losing his meaning. People often confuse the outcome and the process. In his book the 10 types of Innovation Larry Keeley says that “ Innovating requires identifying the problems that matter and moving through them systematically to deliver elegant solutions”.
To be fair, not all organization are innovative and for most of them it’s abstract and can’t be grasped right away. As an innovation consultant, I think that the most important thing to remember, is that innovation is a process. It’s a step by step management process to bring your ideas to the market. You can’t tell people that some concrete thing or packaged service is your answer to ‘what is innovation’. But, creating new things isn’t the result of a single “Eureka!” moment; it’s the fruit of an arduous but exciting process that could be divided in 3 steps: Analysis, Selection and Implementation.
Innovation is not invention
Innovation may involve invention but it involves many other things like your customer’s needs or understanding the forms of interactions your organization is having with your stakeholders. Essentially, innovation is applying improved solutions to problems and issues. The innovation isn’t the solution but actually the process involved in formulating and implementing the answers. Since it can be said that, generally, there are really no new ideas anymore, we can say that putting thoughts and ideas that are already present to create a new solution is a big part of the innovation process.
What is innovation for business?
In the business context, innovation may mean new products, services, processes, partnerships, pricing models, customer experiences, knowledge management or even changing the way things are built or produced. Your customers may be getting the same product but the way you’re making them could be cheaper or faster. The situation in Silicon Valley can show that technology and advanced communication techniques are catalysts for innovation. These tools help enterprises develop new ways for doing old things.
What is innovation for managers?
Managers aren’t the people necessarily innovating; they’re actually the ones who enable their teams to create something new. They should use innovation management techniques that promote creativity, co-creation, communication, collaboration and creative thinking. In some cases, a change of business model can become the tool for letting employees come up with great ideas.
What makes up innovation?
I think it’s a testament to how broad the topic is that there are so many perspectives on the elements of innovation. Some view it as a response to a business development need using appropriate processes, assets, technology and an adequate amount of resources. But this doesn’t cover the human factors like mistakes, failures, communication, collaboration and all the other wonderful birthing pains that are inspiring the creative process.
How important is innovation to the workplace?
People often forget that organizational culture is an important factor when running a company. Innovation is simply one of the by-products of a better office culture. Participatory models of management like holacracy and democratic organizational culture not only motivate your staff but also produce great results.
Some companies often rely on the whole innovation process to sustain them. Startup communities need the fresh ideas and the passion that innovation comes with to keep their businesses going. Without their close collaborations for products and services that work with one another, the tech business would be nowhere.
What is innovation without the right organizational culture?
Technically, the two cannot exist without each other. Even if a company has something new to offer, the way they came about this advancement needs to be a product of a genuine innovation process. If it’s come out of a R&D lab where technicians work into the ground until they get a break, then that’s just a lot of man hours eliminating possibilities.
Innovation can also come out when a transversal business unit group of people that share and collaborate to put ideas together to solve a problem. Even then the solution can only fail but that’s simply part of the process.
The question of “What is innovation?” isn’t easy to answer today as it was before the tech boom, but at least people know how to enable teams to bring it about.
- Managers believe in innovation, but often don’t know how to explain and use it.
- Innovation management must create value for the stakeholders, the company or the customers.
- Embedding innovation in your organization is a thoughtful effort that cannot be incorporated quickly.
- Innovation follows certain codes: it needs a receptive organization culture, it’s step by step a transversal approach, communication is crucial, knowledge management matters and everything must happen in a systemic context.
In conclusion, I would like to say that innovation is more than generating ideas; it’s also managing change, stakeholder’s adoption and knowledge. It’s a systemic strategy to develop and define opportunities for value creation. It’s an ability to drive change and sell your ideas to the market.
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