Monday, July 13, 2009

Defining Innovation

One of the conversations we had this weekend in our Global Strategy course was around the definition of Innovation. In trying to define it, classmates threw out "new technology", "thinking outside the box" and other definitions that sounded close. But Dr.Baliga corrected them by highlighting the difference between Invention/Discovery and Innovation.

Invention / Discovery - these relate to the creation of something new, or expanded knowledge of something in nature.

Innovation - this is the application of that invention / discovery into a product that is successfully deployed to solve a market need.

He was quick to point out that most executives get those two definitions confused. While Invention might seem like the more difficult part (ie. synthesize a new molecule; create a new hybrid engine, etc.), the truly difficult part is creating the system around it (sales, marketing, distribution, etc.) that allows it to be successful deployed by people to solve their problems.

Innovation requires some many things to be aligned and to "go right", including being prepared to act when luck comes your way. That's precisely the reason that so many companies have difficulties trying to be innovative. They have plenty of ideas on the drawing board and in the lab, but they just can't figure out how to get them to market successfully.
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