Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Innovation Goes Beyond a Buzzword

Every idea has the potential to be an innovation - but it is very far away from being an innovation.

Innovation" is a must word everywhere today, the trendy word obsessively filling all presentations, even of really backward organizations in most obsolete industries. Often the definition of innovation is way too broad. It is so broad that the term innovation sometimes becomes meaningless. Innovation is overused and misused by many, but it is still a useful concept. Generally speaking, "innovation means implementing ideas to create value.” This trend, forced by marketers, in real life of the presentation rooms, causes the endless run that pushes good, proven products and businesses to disappear from the market to give way to seasonal novelties, that are usually just face lifting or cheaper versions of the older ones. This is mostly about creating the demand for "new" products among customers and replying to the demand for innovation of the management. Does innovation need to be absolutely new irrespective of time and place?

Innovation is the key business differentiator: As standardization has been poured into every item in modern life, largely due to the production chain and the industrial era. Innovation has risen as the key differentiating value for a company to sell its products or services. And these products and services will remain innovative as much time as competitors learn how to copy it, or the novelty is not relevant for the market anymore. Innovation is an implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization, or external relations. Innovation is not just a new design, a new color, a new seasonal change. It is not only an amazing new idea or the marketing change of an existing product. Innovation is utilizing what you already have in a unique and creative way that as not been done before and using that thing to MAKE PROFIT. It can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive, but it must be marketable and implementable. It is not just new design or invention, it is taking that invention tuning it, tweaking it, changing it in a way that the inventor didn't see and making the customers say "wow, that's cool."

Every innovation includes change process: Consider any new idea as an innovation, mainly if such new idea will change, optimize or improve any existing technology, service, treatment, process, politics, etc...Not every innovation includes "technology in all its scope," but every innovation includes change process, and successful management of this change process is vital for the successful creation of innovations. There are quite some terms that are vital for the successful creation of innovations that are misinterpreted, misunderstood, overused/misused. Innovation has become a buzzword to that point that those who truly understand it cannot get the real message out through the "hype" and truly implement innovative change.* It must be new, ‘new’ means it must force at least a minimum of a change process in adaptation to its target, this change process can be everything (thinking, communication, behavior, use, etc.) the more complex the change process the “target” faces the more radical it becomes (difference between incremental and radical innovation). Commercialization is not at the end of the process (though almost 90% of companies see it this way) but it starts almost with problem identification and moves all the way down to product development and implementation, this approach does not guarantee success.

Innovation should start from deep research of people’s concerns, needs, and frustrations. Being able to engage in successful creation of innovations is a very hard work and does include a lot of skills and abilities as well as processes and theories, understanding of the "innovation" is critical and people who engage in those activities should understand what they do and those who talk about it should understand what they talking about. Great process is used (or should be used) for incremental innovation, radical innovation, in contrast, requires visionary, divergence, imagination and some other attributes that are seldom found in people’s concerns, needs, and frustration - as those are usually focused on present or even past but of course, if this deep research of people is conducted by visionary, divergent people with strong imagination you have great opportunities for potentially radical innovations. A company should aim for both radical and incremental innovations if they are striving for competitive advantage and long-term survival. All new ideas are certainly considered as an innovation if they somehow impact our civilization.

Every idea has the potential to be an innovation - but it is very far away from being an innovation. In the rapidly evolving businesses and economic systems, the creation of new innovations is very complex but critical for firms survival and thriving.


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