Innovation is changing shape

So last week I went to a seminar that was all about innovation (specifically around to network infrastructure).

Several things stuck with me from that event.  One of the key ones was the fascination we have with ‘game-changing’ innovation.  That whatever we innovate has to completely blow the status quo out of the water.

I also heard what I thought was a great definition of what Innovation is:

Innovation is discovery brought to usefulness

The great thing about it is the ‘usefulness’ element.  Without applicability it is nothing but invention.

There were several themes that consistently came through from the day:

  • Innovation is no longer contained – it used to be that the barriers to entry in any given disciple were so high that only a select few and the proprietors of the original could really ‘expand’ on it.  However now, these barriers have come so far down that innovation tends to come from ‘over the top’ players – those who sit outside the value chain but can offer new ways of looking at it.  The implication of this is that
  • Innovation is more collaborative – there is an increasing need for companies to work with 3rd parties to make their product more appealing (look at Apple and its Apps).  The openness for companies is quite difficult at first due to the huge shift in culture needed but once there they see the benefits in that
  • Innovation is a constant state of Beta – by collaborating with others, the innovation process is now much faster.  You invent faster, you test faster, you fail faster, you learn faster, you adapt faster and you launch faster

What companies need to do now is develop a culture of collaboration where failure isn’t accepted per se but it is understood as being part of the process of innovation.  An environment where ideas are allowed to come to the fore (from anywhere inside/outside the company. An environment where innovation is measure not in giant leaps but simply the number of steps forward you take.

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