Innovation and Innovation Management – ‘The Must-Knows’

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Everybody in business and politics knows that innovation is vitally important, yet companies still struggle to innovate on a continual basis. One of the reasons for this is that there is considerable confusion about what innovation is (its definition); the vocabulary of innovation; and innovation’s associated constructs. The following facts about innovation help reduce some of this confusion:

  • innovation is the profitable implementation of ideas
  • innovation is a multi-dimensional construct.
  • an innovation can be described by type (process, product, service, business model, value, market, brand, price, channel etc.).
  • and degree (incremental, semi-radical, radical, transformational etc.).
  • an innovation can be described as a user innovation (the developer benefits by using it) or
  • a manufacturer innovation (the developer benefits by selling it to a market).
  • a definition will emphasize a particular unit of analysis (e.g. task, project, individual, group, SBU, firm, region, or nation).
  • a definition can, therefore, take a broad or narrow perspective.
  • a definition can take a supply- or demand-side view.
  • viewing innovation as either product or process, while useful, is overly simplistic.
  • a sustaining innovation can be radical or incremental.
  • a disruptive innovation, by contrast, emphasizes a dimension of a product that incumbent firms’ most profitable customers don’t especially value.
  • the same author may use a number of different definitions, depending on which dimension is being discussed.
  • innovation can also be viewed as attitude: “There must be a better way.”

Understand the above and you will be well on your way to understanding innovation and making it happen at your own organization.

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