On Behalf of Innovation
The term “innovation,” a current buzzword, has its roots in the 17th century. The name is derived from the Latin word innovare meaning "to renew" and by extension, from novus which means "to change." The prefix in, singularly indicates an inward movement. The concept is 700 years old, but what does it refer to today?
The prospect of innovation inspires and abundantly feeds the exercise of entrepreneurial strategic planning. The mere presence of the word in a statement qualifies and legitimizes real or anticipated innovation and change. Clearly, the mention of the term is often enough to validate the process and its outcome.
The extended use of the term within society and, more particularly, in connection with the business world behooves us to try to determine what innovation truly means, beyond the simple fact that we usually associate it with creativity, progress, competitiveness, improvement… among other purposes.
The Webster dictionary defines innovation as a set of processes that take place from the birth of an idea until its materialization. Therefore, innovation would be something new, ordered by a characteristic process. In reality, the "novelty" aspect is one of the foundations of innovation, but only to the extent that the innovative project is part of a social context and its aims are pragmatic. Innovation is not the idea, but rather its achievement and adoption.
While the modern interpretation of the innovation concept has appeared in the world of technological progress, it still has a commercial dimension. Its primary goal is the overall success of the company, in all aspects of its development. Innovation results in changes and improvements, it is transferable, and sustainable. It is about implementing a concept, attitude or instrument different from those which were used before, and to promote this approach.
Innovation is planned; it must include the needs and capacities of the company. It is also a means of achieving strategic objectives, becoming competitive, differentiating itself, and creating value in all aspects of the organization, whether in its management, processes, products, and services, as well as its marketing efforts and business model (1).
In conclusion, real innovation would be based on the following four assumptions: Readiness for change; ability to establish a structured approach and measurable objectives; fulfilment of anticipated achievements; and recognition of these achievements as progress in a distinct field of activity, society, environment, and technology.
I innovate, You innovate, They Innovate
Even if innovating may seem to be an unattainable goal in the collective imagination, it is in our interest to demystify the approach underlying any innovative project and to see how innovation is within everyone's reach, regardless of the organization’s business model to which we contribute. However, this does not mean that the responsibility to innovate lies with everyone in the organization.
Innovative companies are not shy about appointing someone who will become the flagship of innovation and whose actions will have a persuasive effect on other organization members. The scope of actions of this champion of innovation should help define a field of innovation within the company and promote its innovative projects in its activity sector. In this way, decision-makers, employees, suppliers, customers, and consumers will be able to transcend the essence of innovation.
Its objectives are to generate, incubate and manage new ideas.
What type of innovation to approach?
Innovation can be one of four distinct types of intervention within a company. The most common is the introduction or improvement of a product or service. The improvement in question would relate to the technical specifications of the product, its components, and materials, or in the case of a service, its user-friendliness, or other related functions.
Process innovation, on the other hand, involves implementing a new or improved production or distribution method; more specifically, it relates to techniques and equipment.
Marketing is a field of intervention in which innovation translates into new presentation, promotion, or pricing strategies for a product, service, or activity.
Finally, new methods of organizing practices within the value chain, the workplace, and ways of conducting external relations constitute organizational innovation.
Promoting Innovation within Your Organization or Team
First and foremost, promoting innovation means creating an enabling environment. In general, people are not prepared for innovation since they are usually called upon to perform recurring tasks based on previous learning. Therefore, instilling a culture of innovation takes time and requires commitment. Instilling a desire to learn, to develop new skills, encourage initiative, and work in a team are all strategies to consider in establishing this framework.
Then, we have to define the innovation targets, meaning not only innovative items that we want to develop, but more particularly the competitive advantages that they will provide to the company. Strategic planning and monitoring procedures, as well as in-depth knowledge of the expected area of innovation, constitute essential references for this purpose.
As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. In fact, hastily defining a good solution to a false problem is not an innovative strategy. Identifying a problem properly and analyzing and validating it are the necessary preliminary steps for the development and implementation of creative and adapted solutions.
Completing an innovative project also requires having the necessary resources to make it happen. Whether it is human, material, or financial resources, we must be able to surround and equip ourselves accordingly. However, just because the company does not have in-house resources, it does not mean that they are inaccessible. Several innovation assistance programs are available in many areas of intervention.
It is important to determine your game plan at the development phase of relevant projects selected and to structure each of the development phases. Careful planning will help avoid cost overruns, reduce uncertainties, and stay focused on realistic goals and deliverables.
Project implementation must ultimately result in innovation adoption or improvement by customers, collaborators, and employees. Change communication strategies, project management and monitoring, as well as continuing to update skills are part of the efforts to achieve this acceptance.
Now that the innovation process has (almost) no secrets for you, our team of experts is ready to study your innovative projects and will be delighted to participate in your entrepreneurial success through tailor-made support. Contact us: [email protected]
(1) Source: Oslo Manual, 3rd édition, OECD, 2005
Reference: Quebec Government Economy, https://www.economie.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/contenu/formations/mpa/materielpedagogique/defiinnovation/processus_innovation.html, page consulted on January 17, 2020