Thursday, August 20, 2015

Five Priniciples of Business Innovation

Being innovative is more important than any specific innovation. Innovativeness is a way of thinking.

We're approaching the world with complexity, hyperconnectivity, and the highest level of education ever, and as a result, more people are competing in an increasingly competitive global arena. The classic Schumpeterian definitions of innovation stress that true innovations create a competitive advantage that is not limited to an economic advantage. With well-educated digital workforce today, it's obvious that innovation is being pursued now more than ever, and in fact, we see much more innovation in more and more areas of the business landscapes as a result of an increasingly well-educated population across the globe.

Being innovative is more important than any specific innovation. Innovativeness is a way of thinking. While the change was often previously discrete, intermittent, and predictable, it is now constant, discontinuous, and unpredictable, so we need to change the way we change. This is where absorptive capacity, dynamic capabilities, learning agility, etc. are needed. We don't really know the future of the industry or the environment, but we prepare ourselves to create it better and compete in it. 'True innovation—opportunities missed by most people,” Thomas Edison famously said, because they’re “dressed in overalls and look like work." Innovation is the idea brought to market even when other people thought the idea was crazy or too obvious --and later when it leads to success, everyone looks at and says, " I wish I had thought of that!"

Looking at innovation from the perspective of developing business-wide innovation capabilities. This requires an effective 'innovation system' that is capable of supporting both widespread incremental innovation in products/services and ways of working as well as the rarer 'step-change' innovation in products/services, working methodology, business model, and market positioning. Innovation has three phases: discovery of a problem or new idea, designing a prototype solution and the ultimate delivery of a commercially astute outcome. That the best point of view is to see innovation as a system, capable of delivering organization-wide capability. If you look at all the attempts over the last few decades to create a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive typology for innovation you will soon realize that it is probably not possible given that almost every area of human endeavor is subject to change and thus "innovation." The three classic qualifiers (novelty, value, implementation) are possible to satisfy in any area, so anything is fair game.

Businesses need to determine where best to focus their innovation activities. From a business perspective, 'anything new to your business' is an effective definition to encourage both large and small ideas and ideas that are new and 'copied with pride' from others. If it brings increased value to the business, then that's what's important, not semantics. Establishing sustained and institutional-level innovation is the goal. Innovation consists of two phases; the creative, ideation up front, and then the sharing and implementation downstream when explaining, developing, and selling to sufficiently involve others in adopting and improving upon the "excitement" are involved. In other words, the "moment of Eureka" may be very exciting, but hanging on for the long term adoption and extended use phases may become quickly challenging and exhausting. So, it pays to learn to view innovation matters realistically.

Successful innovation is finding a the bridge between 'push' and 'pull.' Commercial implementation may be represented by creating a need for or finding a need for a 'pull.' To build that bridge requires enthusiasm, belief, determination and commitment as well as a good business case. Innovation is not so much a system, although you need to have processes in place, but more a responsive way of working in general. There is breakthrough innovation or radical innovation, evolutionary innovation, and incremental innovation as well. The minimum requirement for innovation is that the product, process, marketing method or organizational method must be new (or significantly improved) to the firm. This includes products, processes, and methods that firms are the first to develop and those that have been adopted by other firms or organizations. "Pushing" only is not efficient to drive innovation, because idea creation scenario takes brainstorming, collaboration, knowledge absorbing and insight capture. Hence, it's important for managers to pull all necessary resource and build a culture of creativity to harvest from sowing the seeds of innovation and making new ideas fruitful.

'Innovation Agility' enables people to see and solve problems in flexible and adaptive ways. It is about incorporating entrepreneurial and startup principles, with a focus on reducing risk adversity to add value to the quality of people’s lives. This involves thinking systemically because it involves organizational climate, culture, and process changes, simultaneously, within a business ecosystem context. Innovation as the creation and development of new ideas causes meaningful change for customers and the company. This isn't always a new product or service but can also be an improvement in processes, employee satisfaction or the environmental impact. If it makes your customers happier, the firm will eventually also benefit from that!

Innovation is the development of a new combination of available resources, in a way that solves problems of others in a more suitable way. Using the principles of adaptive innovation, one starts with the amount or quality of time itself translated into major societal need. From a business perspective, shaping innovative mindsets, building innovation capability, and cultivating innovation agility are all crucial to making innovation management more practical than just a serendipity.


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