Recruitment consultants ask for 'innovative’ members of staff. Marketers label creative ideas as ‘innovative’. Product developers call the latest release of a food, drink, gadget ‘innovative.’
When it comes to Innovation there are countless meanings, however at Destination Entrepreneur we believe Innovation boils down to:
In short, it’s not innovative unless it adds value!
Unfortunately with multiple meanings, comes multiple misconceptions, and in a bid to hit some of these misconceptions out of the park, we’ve compiled this short list of Innovation myths and realities to guide you through the minefield.
So, let’s bust some myths and confirm some facts:
Innovation needs to involve technology
False. Whilst many of the innovative products we see coming to the market today do involve technology, it is not the be all and end all. At the root of innovation is problem solving, and many problems cannot be solved through technology alone. Solutions and value can come in many forms.
Only creative people can be Innovative
False. Innovation is not the same as creativity. Whilst being creative has its benefits, Innovation is driven by process, so even people who aren’t innately creative can create a powerful Innovation, provided they follow the right process. Once you've learnt the process and harnessed your innovation skills, you'll have them forever.
Ideas are the most important stage of Innovation
False. Ideas are fantastic, but they are worthless until proven. For this reason, every step of the Innovation process is extremely important. For example, we find that a focus on good stimulus (such as trade magazines, industry blogs & expos) and insight (such as market and customer research) drives an abundance of ideas.
Having a lot of money to spend makes innovating much easier.
False. Even if you have a multi-million dollar innovation budget, you're unlikely to be successful unless you have the right innovation strategy and process to follow, and a culture that encourages creativity and experimentation. Many businesses that have large budgets, also have large overheads and a whole heap of bureaucracy to contend with, which can thwart innovation.
Many of the 21st centuries greatest innovators started in a garage or spare bedroom with very limited budgets: think Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Uber... Their success was enabled because they were able to be nimble and quickly learn from their errors, and they didn't have to battle with a hierarchical approval process to take their ideas forward. Whilst ultimately investment enabled these businesses to go global, they were first proven with very little in the way of a budget. When it comes to innovation, small business actually has an advantage.
Disruptive Innovation occurs when the inventor really understands the consumers needs.
True. To radically change a product or service, you need to go back and study the consumer, and understand the real need.
For example, if you think of the candlestick - improving this alone would never have been disruptive. People could change its size, shape, colour, wick material, burn time, burn brightness, make it smokeless or scented, but the real need was to provide safe, controllable light on demand whenever it was needed. Therefore, it was the invention of the lightbulb that was disruptive.
Today's great examples of disruptive innovators are companies like Uber, Air bnb and Dyson because they get to the nuts and bolts of what the consumer needs and provide brand new solutions.
So, disruptive innovation is what counts.
False. Innovation does not have to disrupt a market in order to be successful. Innovation can also, for example, be incremental changes to an existing product or service, or taking an existing product or service into a new market. Disruptive innovation has the potential to make a lot of money, but other forms of innovation can also be lucrative.
Innovation happens only at the most senior level of a business.
False. Just as every business regardless of its kind or size can innovate, so too can every employee create something new that adds value to the business and/or its customers. People mistakenly think that Innovation must be complicated, technical or ingenious, but the reality is, Innovation could be finding a new way of engaging with your suppliers, a new marketing method or a new way of distributing your product. Everyone from the most junior staff member to the business owner should be encouraged to look for new ways to solve old problems. That's how innovation blossoms.
Find out more about how Destination Entrepreneur can help Innovation blossom in your business.