There are many paths to innovation that a company can take and Samsung seems to have found one that works. When they were just getting into the mobile market many of their competitors and critics accused them of copying and building on the innovations of others. While they may have started off in this ‘follow the leader’ direction the innovations and advancements that they have made recently have propelled them to the forefront of mobile technology.
Samsung is a multi-faceted and innovative company that is leading the field in screen technology, batteries, chip design, and mobile devices. All of their innovative efforts seem to be paying off whether their competitors in Google or Apple like their methods or not. Using an innovative process that includes training, patent circumvention, a focus on the process, and pigheaded determination to the innovative culture, has allowed Samsung to be a global leader in multiple industries.
One of the early strategies that allowed Samsung to compete has been referred to as patient circumvention; innovating on the advancements of the market leaders. Using the technology and design of the market leaders and then innovating from that advanced starting position seemed to benefit Samsung. By using the best starting position, whether or not that is their devices or competitors, allowed them to stay competitive in so many different industries. Although this got them in the game, it’s not the reason that they are now so successful. The systematic approach to innovation using global inputs and in expensive global expertise seems to be some of their largest advantages.
Since the late 90s Samsung has been able to leverage their relationship with the Russian Academy of Science to develop and circumvent technology patents of all kinds of devices. This inexpensive scientific expertise is used to not only work directly on innovating its products but also for the adoption and development of the innovation method of TRIZ.
TRIZ is an innovative method that allows for systematic problem solving by seeking contradictions in current approach. This method also calls for users to imagine the ideal state of customers’ needs and desires and drive the process in that direction. It has been estimated that the TRIZ method saved in excess of $100 million in just its first few projects and is now a mandatory skill for the engineers and creative elite within Samsung.
Samsung’s approach to innovation is not similar to Apple’s competitive race style or Google’s skunk work project style, but rather it is about systematically developing a group of creative elite that in turn work a methodical creative process. The amount of training that is put into instilling this innovative system in all of the engineers is close to 3 weeks to ensure that they are properly using this innovative method.
A simple explanation of Samsung’s innovative method and culture is that it is heavily invested in its people with extensive training using repeatable processes. This investment is directed and backed by high level management to confirm its importance. Whatever they’re doing is working and by adopting these techniques you can reap some of the benefits for your company as well.