“Innovation: Imagine the future and fill in the gaps.” — Brain Halligan
On this page
- Innovation Brings New Ideas to Life
- What is Innovation?
- Innovation is a Top Priority
- Leaders Struggle with Innovation
- Innovation Operating System
- What is an Innovation Portfolio?
- How to Measure Innovation?
- Successful Innovation
I think of innovation as applied creativity that creates new value. It’s a skill to harness creativity for meaningful impact.
Alternatively, it’s simply the introduction of something new.
In a business context, innovation is the adoption and realization of new ideas in the market.
In this article, we will delve deep into the world of innovation, and uncover the secrets of how to turn your ideas into action, take bold risks, and create lasting impact.
So, let’s explore the true meaning of innovation, and learn how you can harness the power of innovation to achieve your wildest dreams.
The Power of Innovation
Imagine the power of innovation at your fingertips to create the future you want, grow a better business and build a better world.
Innovation is the ultimate reflection of human potential, and we are only limited by our imagination.
Innovation is the heartbeat of progress. It has the power to disrupt industries, transform lives, and create a better future for us all.
But what exactly is innovation, and why is it so essential to your success in an increasingly complex and challenging world?
Innovation Brings New Ideas to Life
I think the most important idea of innovation is the simple idea that innovation brings new ideas to life.
Innovation is the art of turning creative ideas into tangible realities that solve problems and make a positive impact on the world.
It is the spark that lights the fire of progress and drives humanity forward, always pushing the boundaries of what is possible and paving the way for new discoveries and breakthroughs.
Innovation is the bridge that connects imagination and practicality, bringing ideas to life and transforming the way we live, work, and interact with each other.
Innovation is the process of creating or introducing new ideas, products, processes, or ways of doing things.
It involves identifying a problem or a need and finding creative and effective solutions that can improve upon existing methods.
Innovation can refer to a wide range of fields, including technology, science, medicine, business, and the arts. It can be driven by a variety of factors, such as the desire to improve efficiency, solve problems, or meet the needs of customers.
Innovation can bring about significant change and growth and is often seen as a key factor in the development of new products and industries.
What is Innovation?
One way I define innovation is like this:
“Innovation is the creation of new value through applied creativity.”
What I like about defining innovation in this way is that it reminds us that innovation is a skill and it’s a way to apply creativity to create new value.
A simpler and broader way I define innovation goes like this:
“Innovation is the introduction of something new.”
In a business context, I tend to define innovation more like this:
“Innovation is the adoption of new ideas” or “Innovation is bringing new ideas to life in the market.”
Whether it’s a new approach, a new process, a new product, a new idea, a new way of doing something, the key to me is that innovation is applying creativity to create new value. And of course, some innovations are accidental discoveries (like when 3M created Post-Its / sticky notes, while trying to create a better, stronger, tougher adhesive).
More Innovation Definitions
Here are a few more ways to define innovation:
- “An innovation is often a new product, but it can also be a new way of doing something or even a new way of thinking.” — Dictionary.com
- “Innovation, for its part, can refer to something new or to a change made to an existing product, idea, or field.” — Merriam-Webster
- “A new idea or method, or the use of new ideas and methods.” — Cambridge English
- “The introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something.” — Oxford Dictionary
- “A new or changed entity realizing or redistributing value.” — ISO TC 279 in the standard ISO 56000:2020
I also like how Robyn Bolton, founder of MileZero, defines innovation in a simple way:
“Innovation is something different that creates value.”
McKinsey has a few pragmatic definitions of innovation for a business context:
“Innovation is the systematic practice of developing and marketing breakthrough products and services for adoption by customers.”
McKinsey’s longer version of what is innovation goes like this:
“In a business context, innovation is the ability to conceive, develop, deliver, and scale new products, services, processes, and business models for customers.”
3 Types of Innovation
To keep it simple, there are 3 types of innovation. The 3 types of innovation are incremental, radical, and revolutionary:
- Incremental Innovation – It refers to small, gradual improvements made to existing products, services, or processes.
- Radical Innovation – This type of innovation involves a more significant change, a departure from the existing norms and can result in the creation of new markets and industries.
- Revolutionary Innovation – This type of innovation involves a complete overhaul of existing systems and can lead to significant disruption and transformation of entire industries and markets.
You are other ways to think about and classify innovation, too, such as product innovation, process innovation, business model innovation, management innovation, etc.
What is Managed vs. Unmanaged Innovation?
Managed innovation refers to the process of deliberately and systematically planning and implementing new ideas and improvements within an organization.
This approach is characterized by a top-down management style, where senior leaders make decisions about what areas of the business should be targeted for innovation and set the overall strategy for innovation.
The process of managed innovation is often structured, with defined roles and responsibilities, budget, and timeline for completion.
On the other hand, unmanaged innovation is a bottom-up approach, where employees are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and initiatives.
This type of innovation is less structured and may not have a clear plan or timeline. It can emerge from employees’ day-to-day work, spontaneous brainstorming sessions, or through internal innovation challenges and hackathons.
The focus is on creating an environment where employees feel free to share their ideas and collaborate with others, leading to the emergence of new and innovative solutions.
Both managed and unmanaged innovation can play an important role in driving growth and competitiveness for organizations, and many companies adopt a combination of both approaches to achieve their innovation goals.
Innovation is a Top Priority for Executives
Innovation is often a top priority. Executives often report it in the top 3 or top 5 initiatives, especially when their organization is struggling with big challenges or growth.
The most common drivers for innovation are:
- New technologies
- New customer expectations
- The need for cost efficiency
- The emergence of new business models
Innovation is Needed to Future-Proof Businesses
We need innovation to future-proof existing businesses while designing and launching new ones.
In order to secure a strong future, it’s crucial to both protect existing businesses and bring new, innovative ones to life.
This is where the power of innovation comes into play.
By embracing change and continuously pushing the boundaries, businesses can not only withstand the test of time, but also create a brighter, more exciting future for themselves and their customers.
So, let’s get to work and turn our innovative ideas into reality.
Leaders Struggle with Innovation
Innovation is the key to success in today’s fast-paced world, but it’s not always easy to get it right. Many business leaders believe in the power of innovation but struggle to get their innovative efforts right.
Many companies are good operators, but not good innovators. Established businesses are great at running their day-to-day operations, but not so great at thinking outside the box and coming up with the next big thing.
Instead, they stick to what they know best and focus on improving their core business.
But imagine the possibilities if we could change this!
Let’s work towards creating a future where innovation is a way of life.
How Can Leaders Decide What Innovations to Prioritize?
Leaders can prioritize innovations by considering several factors:
- Strategic fit: The innovation should align with the organization’s overall strategy, mission, and goals.
- Market demand: The innovation should address a problem, challenge, or opportunity that is important to the target market or customers.
- Financial viability: The innovation should have a positive financial impact on the organization, either by generating new revenue streams, reducing costs, or both.
- Competitive advantage: The innovation should give the organization a competitive edge over its rivals, either by differentiating its products, services, or business model.
- Technological feasibility: The innovation should be feasible from a technical and operational standpoint, taking into account the organization’s resources, capabilities, and constraints.
- Timing: The innovation should be timed appropriately, taking into account market trends, technology advancements, and the organization’s internal and external factors.
- Risk: The innovation should be assessed in terms of its risks and uncertainties, and leaders should weigh the potential rewards against the potential risks.
Ultimately, leaders need to make informed decisions based on a thorough analysis of these factors and any other relevant considerations.
How Do Organizations Get Better at Innovation?
McKinsey delved into the attributes and behaviors that drive exceptional innovation performance, conducting extensive research and validating their findings through real-life case studies at hundreds of companies.
The result of their efforts was the identification of eight crucial elements of innovation that organizations must master to excel in innovation.
Here’s what they found:
- Aspire: Do you regard innovation-led growth as critical, and have you put in place cascaded targets that reflect this?
- Choose: Do you invest in a coherent, time- and risk-balanced portfolio of initiatives, and do you devote sufficient resources to it?
- Discover: Are your business, market, and technology R&D efforts actionable and capable of being translated into winning value propositions?
- Evolve: Do you create new business models that provide defensible, robust, and scalable profit sources?
- Accelerate: Do you develop and launch innovations quickly and effectively?
- Scale: Do you launch innovations at the right scale in the relevant markets and segments?
- Extend: Do you create and capitalize on external networks?
- Mobilize: Are your people motivated, rewarded, and organized to innovate repeatedly?
In another perspective, Dr. Marc Sniukas, a strategy advisor, outlines 4 steps you can take to close these innovation gaps. The key points are:
- Define your ambitions and set your innovation strategy.
- Accelerate innovation projects and initiatives.
- Build your innovation operating system.
- Activate innovation capabilities throughout your organization.
Let’s step into building an innovation operating system…
How Do You Build an Innovation Operating System?
There’s no shortage of innovation blueprints and playbooks and ideas about end-to-end innovation. But there is a lack of strategy, implementation and success 🙂
According to Dr. Marc Sniukas, the key to success is in addressing 5 choices about how you manage innovation:
- Governance: How do you want to manage and steer your innovation efforts?
- Organization: How do you want to organize your innovation efforts?
- Processes and Practices: What is your innovation playbook? Which methodologies, frameworks, and tools to use?
- Capabilities and Infrastructure: What skills, support infrastructure and tools do you need to put in place?
- Activation and Enablement: How are you going to nurture and spread a culture of innovation throughout the company?
Let’s take a closer look at how to structure an organization for innovation…
Continuous Innovation / Sustained Innovation
To achieve a culture of sustained innovation, it’s important to adopt an inclusive approach, “innovation from everybody”, where everyone has a role to play.
This can be enhanced by having a dedicated team of experts who facilitate and support the innovation process.
By combining the creativity and drive of the entire organization with the specialized knowledge of the core team, the potential for successful innovation is greatly increased.
The idea here is that “everyone is innovating” and it’s a part of the culture.
It’s mainly effective for incremental or sustaining innovation.
But when it comes to the bigger transformations and venturing into new areas outside of your core, you need a more strategic approach with support end-to-end to be successful.
Non-Core Business Growth / Transformation
If your goal is to venture into uncharted territories and explore new areas for growth or transformation, a dedicated team is essential.
With a dedicated group of experts focused solely on this objective, you’ll have the best chance of creating and executing on innovative ideas that can drive non-core business growth.
According to Dr. Marc Sniukas, you can design your organization for innovation as follows:
- Cross-Functional Innovation Steering Committee. A steering committee made up of key stakeholders from various business units and functions plays a crucial role in driving innovation forward. This committee sets the innovation agenda and outlines the areas of focus, providing guidance and accountability to ensure that the organization’s innovation aspirations are realized.
- Corporate Innovation Function. The Center of Competence is the heart of the innovation system, shaping the way it operates. It defines the methodologies, processes, and tools needed to drive innovation, and focuses on delivering both short-term and long-term, game-changing innovations. This center is dedicated to ensuring that the organization has the necessary infrastructure in place to continuously innovate and remain ahead of the curve.
- Innovation Roles Throughout the Company. The local innovation team acts as a bridge between the organization and the corporate innovation efforts. Their focus is on coordinating local innovation initiatives and ensuring they align with the overall innovation strategy. With a team of local innovation experts at the ready, they provide the support, expertise, and guidance needed to bring local innovation projects to life. By working closely with both the corporate and local teams, this group helps to ensure a consistent, unified approach to innovation across the organization.
- Orchestrated Innovation Ecosystem. The Corporate Innovation team is responsible for engaging and collaborating with external partners to drive innovation forward. They leverage existing solutions and tap into external expertise to address innovation challenges and provide inspiration for new ideas. With dedicated resources at their disposal, this team ensures that the organization is taking full advantage of the opportunities for innovation that exist outside its walls. By fostering partnerships and exchanging knowledge, they help to keep the organization on the cutting edge of innovation.
Drawing from my personal experiences and insights gleaned from interacting with seasoned senior innovation specialists globally, I have gained a deeper understanding of the intricacies, effective implementation strategies, and specialized language involved in establishing an innovation operating system.
I have conducted an in-depth study of their approaches to implementing innovation with clients, gaining valuable insights into what succeeded, what failed, and the valuable lessons they learned from over a decade of working in this field. I look forward to sharing this knowledge and wisdom with you in the near future.
How Do You Create High-Performing Innovation Teams?
Creating a high-performing innovation team requires a strategic and comprehensive approach that involves several key elements. Here are some steps you can take to build a smart and effective innovation team:
- Define the team’s purpose and goals: Clearly communicate the team’s mission, objectives, and desired outcomes. Make sure everyone understands what the team is trying to achieve and what their role is in accomplishing these goals.
- Assemble the right team members: Select team members who have the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to drive innovation. Look for individuals with diverse perspectives, who can bring new ideas to the table and challenge the status quo.
- Foster an inclusive and supportive culture: Encourage open communication, collaboration, and creativity. Celebrate successes, learn from failures, and create an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.
- Encourage experimentation and risk-taking: Encourage the team to take calculated risks, experiment with new ideas, and try new things. Foster a culture where it’s okay to fail, as long as the team is learning and growing.
- Provide the right tools and resources: Make sure the team has the necessary tools, resources, and support they need to be successful. This could include access to technology, training, mentorship, or other forms of support.
- Empower and delegate: Provide the team with the autonomy they need to make decisions and take action. Encourage them to take ownership of their projects, and delegate responsibilities where appropriate.
- Continuously evaluate and adjust: Continuously monitor the team’s progress and adjust the approach as needed. Encourage feedback from team members, and use this information to make changes and improvements.
By following these steps and creating a supportive environment that encourages innovation, you can build a high-performing innovation team that drives real results for your organization.
10 Traits of High-Performing Innovation Teams
High-performing innovation teams share a common set of traits. McKinsey researched strong innovators and start-ups to identify 10 traits behind strong innovators and start-ups.
In the article, Fielding high-performing innovation teams, McKinsey identified the following 10 traits:
They organized these 10 traits into 4 themes:
- Vision: Uncovering, Generating, Selling
- Collaboration: Motivating, Orchestrating, Networking
- Learning: Absorbing
- Execution: Deciding, Pioneering, Tabulating
How Can You Improve the Volume and Value of New Ideas?
Here are some strategies that your organization can implement to improve the volume, velocity, and quality of new ideas:
- Encourage creativity and innovation culture: Create a culture where employees feel empowered to share their ideas and encouraged to think outside the box.
- Foster collaboration and cross-functional teams: Encourage teams from different departments to work together and share ideas, this can lead to new perspectives and innovative solutions.
- Encourage experimentation and risk-taking: Create an environment where employees are allowed to experiment and take calculated risks without fear of failure.
- Encourage diverse thinking: Foster diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, as diversity in backgrounds and perspectives can lead to a wider range of ideas and perspectives.
- Leverage technology and tools: Utilize technology and tools, such as idea management software, to gather and manage ideas, as well as provide a platform for collaboration and idea sharing.
- Provide resources and support for idea development: Provide resources, such as training, funding, and mentorship, to help employees turn their ideas into reality.
- Recognize and reward innovation: Celebrate and recognize successful innovations, as well as failures that helped the organization learn and grow.
By implementing these strategies, organizations can increase the volume, velocity, and quality of new ideas, leading to a more innovative and dynamic workplace.
What is an Innovation Portfolio?
An innovation portfolio refers to a collection of the different innovation initiatives and projects that an organization is pursuing or plans to pursue.
It can include a wide range of projects, from incremental improvements to existing products and services, to new and disruptive innovations.
The purpose of an innovation portfolio is to help organizations prioritize their innovation efforts and allocate resources effectively.
By having a clear view of all their innovation initiatives, organizations can make informed decisions about which projects to pursue, how to allocate resources, and how to measure progress.
Additionally, an innovation portfolio helps organizations ensure that they have a balanced mix of projects, including both short-term and long-term initiatives, as well as initiatives that address both current and future needs.
3 Levels of Innovation Investment (Innovation Ambition Matrix)
How do you think about the broad strokes of your innovation investment?
In the article, Managing Your Innovation Portfolio, Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff share The Innovation Ambition Matrix. The Innovation Ambition Matrix specifies 3 levels of innovation investment:
- Core: Optimizing existing products for existing customers.
- Adjacent: Expanding from existing business into “new to the company” business.
- Transformational: Developing breakthroughs and inventing things for markets that don’t exist yet.
The Innovation Ambition Matrix is a valuable tool for managers as it provides a framework to survey all ongoing innovation initiatives and determine the company’s overall ambition for its innovation portfolio.
The two primary use cases of the Innovation Ambition Matrix are:
- Provides a framework to survey all ongoing innovation initiatives. How many innovation initiatives are being pursued in each realm? How much investment is going into each? The Innovation Ambition Matrix allows managers to assess the number of initiatives being pursued in different realms and the amount of investment being allocated to each type of innovation.
- Determine the company’s optimal level of innovation. What should the overall innovation investment ambition be? The Innovation Ambition Matrix provides overall a way to frame the discussion around the company’s ambition for its innovation portfolio and optimal level of innovation. For instance, a consumer goods producer may prioritize small extensions to existing product lines, while a high-tech company may focus on bold innovations with the potential for greater rewards.
The matrix’s true strength lies in its ability to facilitate important discussions and guide decision making, as few organizations take the time to consider the best level of innovation for their specific needs, let alone achieve it.
10% Growth for Sustainable Innovation, 70% Growth for Disruptive innovation
The return ratio from innovation investment is usually inversely proportional to the ideal allocation, with transformational efforts contributing 70% of the long-term cumulative return, adjacent initiatives contributing 20%, and core innovation efforts contributing only 10%.
In the HBR article, Managing Your Innovation Portfolio, Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff write:
“Management knows it and so does Wall Street: The year-to-year viability of a company depends on its ability to innovate. Given today’s market expectations, global competitive pressures, and the extent and pace of structural change, this is truer than ever…
We’re finding consistently that the return ratio is roughly the inverse of that ideal allocation described above: Core innovation efforts typically contribute 10% of the long-term, cumulative return on innovation investment; adjacent initiatives contribute 20%; and transformational efforts contribute 70%.”
What is a Portfolio of Initiatives?
The McKinsey portfolio-of-initiatives framework is an enduring idea that provides a flexible and adaptive approach to strategy development in an ever-changing and uncertain environment.
Traditional business strategy techniques are based on the assumption of a predictable future and rely on making informed projections about market trends, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. However, in a rapidly evolving and uncertain world, this approach becomes inadequate.
The portfolio-of-initiatives framework, introduced by Lowell Bryan of McKinsey in the early 2000s, offers a dynamic solution for strategy development in a fluid and unpredictable environment.
The framework incorporates concepts such as the three horizons of growth and the levels of uncertainty proposed by Hugh Courtney. In his article, “Just-in-time strategy for a turbulent world,” Bryan likens the portfolio to a convoy of ships during wartime, where the diversity and number of ships increase the survival chances of each individual ship.
The portfolio-of-initiatives framework considers two key factors: familiarity and time. Initiatives that leverage a company’s unique knowledge base and offer a competitive advantage in terms of familiarity deserve the greatest investment of resources.
These initiatives offer the potential for superior rewards with a given level of risk.
Subsequently, initiatives that necessitate acquiring new knowledge should also be pursued.
How To Implement a Portfolio of Initiatives
In order to maximize current returns and establish a foundation for future growth, it is crucial to have a balanced portfolio of initiatives over time.
To implement the portfolio-of-initiatives approach, you would follow these three steps:
- Conduct a thorough search for initiatives that offer a favorable balance between risks and rewards.
- Continuously monitor and evaluate the portfolio, reinvesting in successful initiatives and terminating those that are not delivering results.
- Adopt a flexible and adaptive approach, allowing for adjustments along the way.
This strategy operates like a form of natural selection, by identifying the most promising initiatives and discarding the rest.
With the increasing uncertainty in today’s business landscape, the importance of balancing risk and reward makes the portfolio-of-initiatives framework more vital than ever.
How To Measure Innovation?
Measuring innovation can be a complex and challenging task, as it often involves evaluating intangible assets and intangible outcomes.
Here are some of the ways companies can measure innovation more effectively:
- Financial metrics: Companies can measure innovation by evaluating its financial impact, such as increased sales, reduced costs, and improved profits.
- Market impact: Measuring the market share and customer satisfaction can give an indication of how well an innovation has been received by the market.
- Employee engagement: Employee engagement in innovation initiatives and their willingness to embrace change can be a good indicator of the company’s overall innovation culture.
- Intellectual property: Tracking the number of patents and licenses generated can provide a tangible measure of a company’s innovative capacity.
- Process metrics: Measuring the time it takes to bring a product or service to market, the number of ideas generated, and the success rate of innovation projects can provide insight into the efficiency and effectiveness of the innovation process.
- Customer feedback: Measuring customer feedback through surveys, focus groups, or other methods can give valuable insights into the impact of innovation on customers.
It’s important to remember that innovation measurement is a continuous process and it is advisable to track multiple metrics to get a more comprehensive view of a company’s innovation performance.
Measuring Innovation-Driven “Net New Growth”
An interesting way to measure innovation is what McKinsey calls the “green box”.
The “green box” measure of innovation-driven net new growth helps clarify the aspirations and choices of the innovation journey by quantifying growth in revenue or earnings within a defined timeframe.
As McKinsey puts its:
“It’s one thing to frame innovation as a catalyst for growth, and another to act upon it by refocusing people, assets, and management attention on the organization’s best ideas.”
This solidifies a tangible commitment to innovation and defines its value.
The green box only considers growth from innovation and excludes other sources, allowing for the creation of objectives and metrics for the company’s various operating units to incorporate into their innovation portfolios.
85% of Executives Say Fear Holds Back Their Organization’s Innovation Efforts
What holds back innovation efforts? A simple, very human thing:
When McKinsey polled executives, they found that 85% of executives reported that fear holds back innovation efforts in their organization. The fear of ambiguity and uncertain outcomes impedes innovation.
Despite this, only a small number of organizations take steps to address these fears, relying on individuals with a unique ability to push forward with bold innovation initiatives despite the risks involved.
To improve innovation efforts within an organization, it is important to tackle the fear that can hold it back. Here are a few steps that can be taken:
- Create a culture of experimentation: Encourage employees to take calculated risks and experiment with new ideas. Reward those who take bold steps towards innovation and be transparent about lessons learned.
- Foster a sense of collaboration: Encourage cross-functional collaboration, including working with different departments and team members from diverse backgrounds. This can help to foster new ideas and bring a fresh perspective to the table.
- Encourage open communication: Create a safe space for employees to express their ideas, thoughts and concerns. Encourage open and honest communication, where constructive feedback and criticism are welcome.
- Provide training and development opportunities: Offer training and development opportunities to help employees develop new skills and knowledge. This can help boost their confidence and overcome their fears.
- Promote work-life balance: Ensure that employees have a healthy work-life balance. Overworking and burnout can cause anxiety and fear, hindering their ability to innovate.
- Establish clear goals and expectations: Provide clear guidelines and expectations for innovation efforts, including what is expected and what is not. This can help employees focus on their goals and minimize their fears.
- Celebrate success: Celebrate the successes of innovation efforts, no matter how small they may be. This can help to reinforce the importance of innovation and encourage employees to continue to push the boundaries.
By taking these steps, organizations can help to mitigate the fears that hold back innovation efforts, and create a more supportive environment for innovation to thrive.
How Can a “Growth Mindset” Help with Fear and Cultivate Innovation?
A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, dedication, and learning. This mindset can help overcome fear and promote innovation in the following ways:
- Encourages Risk-Taking: A growth mindset encourages individuals to embrace challenges and take risks, which is key to innovation. People with a growth mindset are more likely to experiment and try new things, even if there is a chance of failure.
- Fosters Resilience: Having a growth mindset helps individuals bounce back from setbacks and failures. When faced with obstacles, individuals with a growth mindset see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than giving up.
- Supports Continuous Learning: A growth mindset is driven by a desire for self-improvement and learning. This mindset can help individuals overcome their fears by encouraging them to constantly learn and grow.
- Promotes Collaboration: A growth mindset can also foster a collaborative work environment, where individuals are willing to share their ideas and support each other in their pursuits. This can help to create an innovative culture that is not held back by fear.
Promoting a growth mindset in the workplace can help to mitigate the negative impact of fear on innovation and foster an environment where individuals are encouraged to take risks, embrace challenges, and continuously learn and grow.
What is Successful Innovation?
I think the simplest way to think about successful innovation comes down to this:
“Successful innovation is the creation and adoption of new ideas that make a positive impact.”
Successful innovation refers to the introduction of new and improved products, services, processes, or business models that meet a need or solve a problem in the market and result in positive outcomes for the company, such as increased profitability, market share, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage.
A successful innovation should deliver value to customers and stakeholders and be sustainable over the long term.
The definition of successful innovation can vary depending on the context and the goals of the company, and it may involve a trade-off between risk and reward.
Successful Innovation Drives Value and Growth
Innovation is the key to unlocking higher value and driving sustainable growth. Whether it’s improving existing products and services, or creating entirely new ones, innovation fuels progress and sets the stage for continued success.
By continuously introducing new ideas and advancements, companies can stay ahead of the curve, meet the changing needs of their customers, and ultimately create long-term value for their stakeholders.
In short, innovation is the engine of growth, and investing in it is an investment in the future.
Dr. Laura Furstenthal, a leader within the global Healthcare Systems & Services Practice at Mckinsey, puts it like this:
“If you look up ‘innovation’ in a dictionary, you see definitions like creating novel ideas or even just the word ‘creativity.’
We believe you have to think about the impact, so our definition of innovation incorporates delivering net new growth that is sustainable, repeatable, and substantial.
You can focus on new products, markets, customers, or business models, but however you measure it, innovation has to increase value and drive growth.”
Successful Innovation Depends on the WHO, the HOW, and the WHAT
In the article, Innovation–the launchpad out of the crisis, Dr. Laura Furstenthal, We have found that every successful innovation throughout history has come at the intersection of three lenses:
- The Who: An unmet customer need.
- The What: a technology that generates a solution.
- The How: A business model that enables you to monetize that solution.
Dr. Furstenthal recommends asking yourself three questions:
- Does what you are doing matter? Will customers benefit from it?
- Can you build it, and what technologies do you need to do that?
- Will it win? Is there an opportunity for the innovation to take on a market?
Dr. Furstenthatl says:
“Because all of these lenses are required for successful innovation, the best way to generate new concepts is to collide them in a very structured and purposeful way.”
What are Examples of Successful Innovators?
When it comes to successful innovators, keep the following words of wisdom from Winston Churchill in mind:
“Success is not final, failure it not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
There are many examples of successful innovators across various industries and fields. Some of the most well-known include:
- Steve Jobs and Apple: Jobs revolutionized the tech industry with his design-centered approach to product development, which led to the creation of iconic products like the iPhone and the MacBook.
- Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Bezos transformed the retail industry with his focus on customer experience, using technology and data to provide a seamless and personalized shopping experience.
- Elon Musk and Tesla: Musk is changing the automotive industry with his electric cars and clean energy solutions, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in transportation and energy.
- Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: Zuckerberg created a social media platform that has connected billions of people around the world, and continues to shape the way we communicate and consume information.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin: Page and Brin founded Google, which has become the world’s most popular search engine and one of the most valuable companies in the world.
These innovators, along with many others, have had a profound impact on the world by challenging conventional wisdom, taking risks, and pushing boundaries to create something new and impactful.
What are Examples of Companies that Innovate?
There are many companies that have been successful in innovation and have become leaders in their respective industries. Some examples include:
- Airbnb: Airbnb has revolutionized the hospitality industry with its peer-to-peer home-sharing platform, creating new opportunities for travelers and homeowners alike. The company is now expanding into other areas such as experiences and adventures.
- Amazon: Amazon has disrupted traditional retail with its focus on customer experience and use of technology and has expanded into new industries such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Some innovation examples include Amazon Prime, Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and Amazon Go.
- Apple: Apple is known for its innovative products and design and is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative companies in the world. Some innovation examples include iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X, Apple Pay, and Siri.
- Google: Google has transformed the way we access and process information with its search engine and suite of innovative products and services. Some innovation examples include Google’s search engine, Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Photos, and Google Street View.
- Microsoft: Microsoft has been a leader in technology innovation for decades, with a focus on software and hardware solutions that are designed to be user-friendly and accessible. Some innovation examples include Surface Devices, HoloLens, Xbox Game Pass, Azure platform and Microsoft Cognitive Services.
- Netflix: Netflix has disrupted the traditional entertainment industry with its streaming services, original content, and data-driven approach to content development.
- Samsung: Samsung is a leader in technology innovation, with a broad portfolio of products and services that includes smartphones, laptops, and home appliances.
- Tesla: Tesla is pushing the boundaries of electric vehicles and renewable energy and is revolutionizing the automotive industry.
Some innovation examples include Telsa’s high performance electric vehicles (EVs), autopilot, solar panels and energy storage, super charger network, and Tesla’s unique and stylish car design.
- Toyota: Toyota has been a pioneer in automotive innovation for decades, with a focus on fuel efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability. Some innovation examples include hybrid cars, Lean Manufacturing, safety features, fuel cell vehicles, and advanced materials such as lightweight composites and high-strength steels.
- Uber: Uber has disrupted the transportation industry with its innovative app-based ride-hailing service, changing the way people get around and creating new opportunities for drivers and riders alike.
Embracing the Power of Innovation: The Path to a Better Future
Innovation is a vital ingredient for success in today’s rapidly changing world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a corporate executive, or simply someone who wants to make a difference, the ability to innovate is a key skill that can help you achieve your goals and create a better future.
By understanding the fundamental principles of innovation, taking calculated risks, and embracing change, you can become a catalyst for positive transformation and drive progress in your community and beyond.
So, embrace your creativity, challenge the status quo, and never stop innovating – the world is waiting for you to make your mark!
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