In times of globalisation, it has become vital to maximise the rate of innovation. Defining the concept innovation is difficult. Often we spend little time thinking about definitions, yet how we define a word influences our actions.
There are many misunderstandings about innovations and often innovation has become a passive process. Innovation should be part of an organisations culture to be fruitful. Everyone should be provided with opportunities to contribute to idea generation and problem solving.
Innovation is an idea that leads to action and there is a difference between ideas and innovation. Consequently, an organisation needs ideas and there is no way to know which solution that will lead to an innovation. The idea is to make winning contributions rather than selecting the winner.
Some misunderstandings about innovation:
- Innovation just happens – No, innovation does not just happen
- We simply get ideas – No, ideas need to be designed.
- Technology first – No, first the idea, only then we look for the technology.
Innovation does not just happen
We often hear that everything will be solved with innovation:
- If we only had more knowledge
- If we only could invest more in research.
- If we only had time to listen to the customer and work with other companies.
- If we had time to allow our employees to make mistakes.
- If our workforce was better trained.
- If we had “social innovation” and a “different” government
But the question is how? And who will provide the ideas? The market will not provide us with ideas. Using a research institute is an expensive process.Often we are dependent on a few creative people in our organisation. These ideas may not be the ones we have been looking and “wishing “for, yet we must implement them and also reward them? Or maybe all the ideas are ours and we are running out of ideas. . .
We do not get an idea: an idea is deliberately designed
Many entrepreneurs have paid a huge price by waiting for a good idea – and with a good idea we do not “mean “more of the same”. Usually brainstorming sessions at a resort turns out to lead to few ideas that can be turned into innovations.
What do we need? Designing a good idea seems to be nothing more than just craftsmanship. To choose the right thinking techniques to help us depart from ‘fuzzy’ beginnings to getting sharper and brighter ideas.
But starting point for innovation should also been our situation. And this is where innovation starts.
First the idea, only then comes in the technology.
Not vice versa. When we are travelling, we first choose a destination, and then we decide to take the train or car. Or maybe we can walk to the destination.
The innovation process is similar. Often the technology already exists and we must first develop the idea. Then, after the idea, we choose the technology to carry it out.
If the idea has potential we should make and evaluation of market and explore the technological feasibility.
As with “normal” investment decisions we should consider:
- Further research.
- Map and reduce risks.
- Protect intellectual property.
- Find funding.
- Look for possible partners.
- Changes the organisation.
But all of this takes place after we have designed the idea
Photo: “Future Background” by Pixomar