Any firm senior management's dream is to grow through innovations by a steady and predictable stream of breakthrough products, high margins and growth due to first-mover advantages, rapid development and efficient use of scarce resources, and investments in new technologies address new markets and customer needs.
Innovation is at the top of most businesses’ minds. Many are reaching the point where they have taken as much cost out of their manufacturing and distribution processes as possible and are finding it impossible (and perhaps not the best strategy) to be the low-cost providers in competitive markets. Therefore, many companies are looking to be innovative to stay competitive. In response to this need, innovation is seen as the solution for differentiating themselves from their competitors.
Can any one who wants to be innovative becomes truly innovative? The answer is no because it doesn’t work that way. Innovation is market driven, hard, focused, purposeful work. It requires knowledge, diligence, persistence, commitment, and often great ingenuity. For innovation to occur and succeed, innovators must build on their strengths, where more than the generation of creative ideas or insight is required. The insight must be put into action to make a genuine difference, resulting in new successful products and services. We believe innovation leads to a steady and predictable stream of top-line products.
Are you innovating at the level you want, why not? Because innovation is about people. If you do not have the right ones, you’re going to stay in the same place.
You need to bring the right people into your organization. This can be through hiring staff, bringing on consultants or identifying the people in your organization who have the innovative “it” and making them a part of your innovation efforts.
Can innovation be taught? A search for innovation books on Amazon.com yields 591,708 results describing different ways to be innovative. While some authors say that everyone innovates in different ways and each of these ways requires a different approach, our experience is that innovative people are innovative no matter the approach. The reason for so many books on the subject is that innovation is inherently not about a method or process.
Why is innovation so difficult? The reality in many companies are: Senior management faces strong incentives to focus on short term. Development managers do not know how to achieve breakthrough products and technologies. Organizational incentives encourage incremental changes but discourage risk taking, experimentation and change.
The ability to innovate is improving radically and rapidly as a result of the steadily improving quality of computer software and hardware, improved access to easy-to-use tools and components for innovation, and access to a steadily richer innovation commons. Today, firms and even individual hobbyists have access to sophisticated programming tools for software and sophisticated design tools for hardware and electronics. These information-based tools can be run on a personal computer, and they are rapidly coming down in price. As a consequence, innovation by users will continue to grow even if the degree of heterogeneity of need and willingness to invest in obtaining a precisely right product remains constant.
Innovation starts at the top. It includes company culture, process, management, and people.
Frequently companies have innovative processes but do not have cultures that innovation can flourish in. Culture must be seen past product centric terms; it can be applied to more than just products and services.
Innovation is a process that will open many opportunities, many which won’t succeed for your business. Discover failures early, learn from them and afterward move on. However it is imperative to get rid of failures early in the process to minimize costs.
The organization requires a proper structure keeping in mind the end goal to retain competitive advantage. It is important to create and sustain an environment of innovation. Executives and managers need to split far from traditional ways of thinking and use change to their advantage and good fortune. It is a time of risk however much greater opportunity.
Hiring Innovative People
You may be considering, “I’ve read every one of the books, presented innovation processes and nurtured a culture that supports innovation, yet I’m not innovating at the level I need. Why not?” Innovation is about individuals. If you do not have the right people, you are going to stay in the same place.
Companies cannot grow through mergers, acquisitions, cost reductions, and re-engineering alone. Design innovation is a key element in providing breakthrough new products necessary for business growth. Innovation requires innovative individuals who flourish in an innovation culture and who made the innovation processes and activities part of their lifestyle. If you have a reputation for innovation, make it key to what you do as more organizations come to understand that steps, phases, faces and different processes of innovation are insufficient, you will be perceived as a hot commodity.