Innovation and Design


A vision on innovation

Innovation is a very misunderstood technique.

We would like to introduce some clarity:

  • Innovation does not just fall into your lap
  • Ideas have to be consciously designed
  • Application of a technology follows the generation of an idea, not visa versa

Innovation does not  just fall into your lap

You will often hear that innovation will provide the solution:

  • If you give enough knowledge vouchers to SMEs and increase investment in research.
  • If only companies would listen more to the customer and collaborate with other companies. . .
  • Or if companies become more ‘open’ and allow employees to make mistakes. . .
  • If entrepreneurs become less risk-avoiding and the workforce are better trained. . .
  • If we produce ‘social innovations’ and the government ‘changes’. . .

But how? And who will provide the ideas?

In many cases, they do not come from the existing market.

From a knowledge centre then, but which one?
Or from a few non-conformists in your organisation? Who produce ideas you do not  really want, but do have to implement, and you even have to pay them generously for it!

Or do the ideas come from you?

Ideas have to be consciously designed 

Simply waiting for a good idea to come along has ruined many entrepreneurs. Purposefully developing a good idea has not. And by a good idea, we do not mean ‘more of the same’. Or brainstorming during a team away day with flip-overs and coloured pens.
So what then? Thinking up a good idea is most like ordinary, traditional work. Select the appropriate thinking technique and from a ‘vague’ beginning become increasingly clear and focused. The starting point is always: your situation. 

First the idea, then the technology. Not the other way around. 

If you go on holiday, you first choose your destination and then decide whether to go by train or car. And you may even be able to walk. Innovation is no different. The technology required to implement almost any idea will have existed for some time. You must first develop the idea and then select the technology to implement it. If you reverse the order, your path will end in a cul-de-sac.

After the idea has been properly detailed, a thorough evaluation of its feasibility in terms of technology and marketing techniques will be required. Just as strictly as with ‘ordinary’ investment decisions:

  • Perhaps additional applied research will need to be carried out
  • The risks must be categorised and covered.
  • Intellectual properties must be protected.
  • The funding must be finalised
  • It may be necessary to look for partners.
  • Or the organisation may need to be modified.

But all this is only after the idea for innovation has been designed.

By the way, what is innovation? A hype, a mantra or just a mode.

Photo: By Karoly Lorentey from Budapest, Hungary (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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