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What Kind of Innovation?

18 Jul

What kind of innovation is right for your company?

To answer this question, you must first determine your goals for innovation. Do you expect innovation to bring you new products and services, more effective marketing, lower-cost operations, happier employees, or some other goal? An R&D lab will produce different innovations from a Kaizen program in the factory. Make sure your innovation effort aligns with your goals.

Next, consider the resources you are willing to commit. If you spend only enough to host an annual innovation awards competition and banquet, you may receive amazing ideas from your employees—or you may not. If you hire a full-time innovation team and invest in journeys of discovery, you should expect a steady stream of profit-improving innovations. Scale your investment according to your priorities, and measure your return on investment.

Third, consider your market. Mature industries often thrive on incremental innovation and operational innovation. Disruptive innovation happens rarely, but when it does, it can destroy the incumbents. Evolving, growing industries, on the other hand, are frequently disrupted by innovations of various types, including product, service, business model, partnership and customer experience. Players in IT, mobile telephony and similar businesses will succeed when their innovation programs are dynamic and versatile.

There is one kind of innovation that I recommend for all companies regardless of their size or their industry. That is customer-centered innovation. When the customer is the central focus, then every innovation, whether it concerns operations, sourcing, HR, marketing, finance or IT, should create value by improving someone’s life. Value creation is the hallmark of all successful innovation.

Related reading: Types of Innovation and How to Utilize Them

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