Innovation is the “lifting of all weights” in business. Innovation is one of the key ingredients for progress; it is the foundation of all forward-looking businesses. We live in a day and age when everything we use or buy, we either bought on credit or got it free. It’s tough to earn money and survive in today’s tough world. Innovation allows businesses to “lift all the weights” and move forward and stay ahead. Innovation helps the economy grow, because without innovation the economy would fail to keep pace.

Innovation can take place in many different forms. Innovation can be in the form of doing something differently, better, faster, and with less cost; the practice of innovation can be regarded as a process, and each step in the process is called an innovation step. One example of an incremental innovation is the adoption of schedule settings for automobiles.

The automobile industry was recently examined by the General Motors Company (which was recently purchased by Toyota) in terms of its ability to adapt to the advent of the highly disruptive practice of “disruptive innovation”. Disruptive innovation occurs when a new product, idea, or technology emerges that disrupts the existing markets or industries in which it competes. Examples of disruptive innovations have been recent such as the internet, mobile phones, and the introduction of the DVD player. Car companies were slow to adapt scheduling settings for cars. GM however, was able to adapt to the new disruptive force, and became one of the early adopters.

One of the insights into innovation strategy and practice that I like best is this; “When something new appears, do something different.” When someone new pops up, do you know what to do? In business, especially when there are multiple competitors and a plethora of choices, a lot of research and analysis must go into making a strategy that works. It is not enough to throw together some ideas and hope for the best. Innovation strategies must be methodical, and innovative solutions must be tested and re-examined and adjusted.

Consider if you will the following points: Many businesses spend far too much time focusing on innovation. While this is important, innovation should not be the primary focus of a company. The reality is that innovation projects can fail and create new problems in the organization’s core business processes. Instead of spending large amounts of money and man hours on innovative projects, focus on execution. Create a plan to create new ideas, test them, adapt them and then test again to create new solutions.

In summary, innovation is not a one time thing. Rather, it is a process that begins with the development of a good innovation strategy, followed by the implementation of the strategy and constant review and adjustments. The goal of an innovative company is to build an innovation culture, where innovation is embraced, and used to enhance organizational and internal operations.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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