True Innovation

Few companies today truly understand innovation let alone manage it successfully.  Every company wants to be innovative. But do they truly want to be innovative, or do they want the prestige and the perceived rewards that go with such a thing.  The first step in a company's self-actualization is understanding if the company is truly innovative or their greater strength lies elsewhere.  

 It is OK for a company not to be innovative.  In fact, a company is much better off not trying to be something it is not.  A company that is honest with itself is in a much better position to be profitable and offer a great working environment.  How can you tell if you are an innovative company?   Begin with an understanding of what innovation is.  Innovation is not offering a flavor that is already in the marketplace today.  Innovation does not find its roots in taking the latest "Kewl" thing in technology and applying to the market your company serves.  Innovation begins with an understanding of what the market is and then finding new creative ideas that improve how the target market evolves.

 Let us try a specific example.  Company A became the first in the market to offer a mobile application based on the trend of the moment (insert Palm Pilot, Blackberry, Ipad, etc) .  The application offered little additional functionality to the existing application available in the desktop environment.  Company B studied the user behaviors of the existing market and determined that mobile did bring value to the market but also understood the fluidity of the inherent business processes.   Company B then developed a multi-platform mobile product that was component-driven allowing users to mix and match functionality based on individual process needed. 

 Which Company was innovative?  Company B.  Innovation is not recipe-driven one size fits all. Company A's mobile offering was not innovation.  It was a safe sound product management decision.  Innovation is not playing it safe. Innovation involves risk.  Innovation is not founded in data points.  Innovation comes from understanding the market forces.  Finally, innovation comes from creativity not from keeping up with the Jones.  This last point is the most critical.  Following market trends and "playing it safe" does not an innovative company make.  

Returning to one of the key elements in this article,  IT IS OK to not be innovative.  Some companies thrive because their culture matches their respective marketplace.  The key to success is figuring out your place in the market and then stoking the engine towards that end game.

About Sprawlgeek.
A Seasoned Technology Visionary possessing a deep understanding of technology and business processes.

Doug has accumulated over 35 years of experience in the technology and media markets. His broad career has ranged from leading Research and Development work for a 300+ million dollar company to an E-Government startup. His efforts have been recognized by major trade associations as well as Tier 1 clients.

Doug is now a private consultant and continues to provide his insights to the industry.