How does innovation really happen? A better understanding of innovation will help you avoid common mistakes and will enhance your organization’s innovation culture.
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It may seem obvious that research-driven companies need to focus on innovation. But all organizations need to generate new products and services to stay on top of their markets. And innovation is not only about coming up with new products and services, it also deals with all other parts of the value-chain in our organizations including internal processes–that is, innovation process management.
No doubt, good innovations start with good ideas. And it is also true, that there are organizations that are starving for good ideas about new processes, new services and new products. But a good idea is nowhere near enough. Because the reality is that many people in organizations have good ideas every day. Sometimes they keep them to themselves, and sometimes they even communicate them. The really hard part about innovation is capturing the good ideas bringing them to the marketplace or the workplace.
Often when companies design innovation processes, they look at the process as a linear chain of events. Ideas have to pass through those processes, where they are filtered or selected at various stages. Ideas are developed in steps, they are tested and refined, and decisions are made about whether it will ultimately come to the market. What we often forget is that as ideas grow and take up more resources and effort for the organization, they have an impact on the organization. There is a feedback loop between the innovation pipeline and the organization. And sometimes, as the innovation grows, that reverse effect from the innovation to the organization can impact the organization. This is nothing bad, but it is something to be aware of because it might drive the organization into an unintended direction. And sometimes there are good reasons why this is not desirable.
The underlying reason for this myth is that we sometimes evaluate ideas without having a framework for that evaluation. What makes an idea great? It is easy to ‘look’ at an idea and to make an intuitive assessment about its greatness. But this is risky, and it keeps us from allowing ideas to turn into innovation. Here is our definition of a ‘great idea’: something that can be developed into an innovation that has the potential for a solid impact on our business. Only at the end do we really know whether the idea was great or not by looking at its impact. Since the impact will greatly vary with the type of industry, we have to adjust our expectation accordingly. In markets that are highly commoditized, it is harder to find the competitive edge: therefore a small change in what we do or how we do it, may have an enormous impact. This is a classic case, where a small action (the small idea) can lead to big results.
Innovation means change. It is a change in the product portfolio we offer, in our services, in our processes, our structures or any other aspect of how we do business. As with all change, there is no denying that this brings risk. And as trite as this may sound, it is still true: risk entails both opportunity and danger. Good innovation management goes hand in hand with good risk management, which looks at the entire portfolio of the company’s products and activities.
Dr. Josef Martens delivers powerful and entertaining keynotes that open audience’s eyes to what works and doesn’t work in innovation–and why. Learn concrete examples and action steps, founded in a fascinating tour of innovation history, spiced with colorful examples of innovation blockbusters and blunders. Josef combines the warmth of a storyteller with the analytical sharpness of an innovator for a keynote that will leave a lasting benefit on your organization’s ability to innovate. Request more information about arranging a keynote by Dr. Josef Martens, for your event.