A quick thought about innovation as a process


1. The action or process of innovating.
2. A new method, idea, product, etc: "technological innovations".

Innovation is mostly behaviour: behaviour designed to bring a big, bold vision to life.

It is repeated behaviour. Action, improved, again and again.

Whether that behaviour happens in one closed journey, as Apple’s process suggests, or out in the open in a lean start-up approach, it is learning behaviour that counts.

Innovation processes guide our learning behaviour. Successful innovation processes tend to be  completely customer centric and iterative.

So obviously innovation is not just doing something new, rather finding ways to make something new-ish really work, and then improving it to spawn more and more things that really work, that bring people closer and closer to you. This cycle of action proves the brand/company’s vision to consumers.

Ideas are built up over time, so are never truly ‘new’ anyway.

Successful innovation makes ideas with potential better, or more relevant, for a target consumer (think MP3 players vs iPod, TV hard drives vs Tivo, business flying vs virgin atlantic, electric cars vs Tesla).

Fast/better followers tend to be more successful over time than first movers.

…how about the story of Overture. In 1998 Goto.com, a small startup (later Overture, now part of Yahoo!), created the pay per click search engine and advertising system and demo’d it at the TED conference.

It was not until October 2000 that Google offered its version of a pay per clickadvertising system -AdWords -allowing advertisers to create text ads for placement on the Google search engine.

Google is a $25 billion dollar company with most of its revenue from AdWords.

Overture was acquired by Yahoo for $1.6 billion.

Successful innovation, therefore, is the success of HOW we mitigate risk and improve those ideas  that show potential. Often the WHAT is borrowed and built on all that went before. Newton’s “standing on the shoulders of giants” quote provides a powerful insight to help us manage ideas.

Agility in business is agile behaviour managed consistently: agility to learn faster than competitors, test faster, build more efficiently on what went before.

Here’s an interesting post from consulting group Bluewolf about agility in business asking ‘Is facebook the reincarnation of Kodak?’

Organizations that become agile enterprises — being customer obsessed, iterative, and social — stand a much better chance of leaping from their current business model to future business models that still promote the essence of their identity.Oracle should have realized ten years ago that they were not a software company; their customers couldn’t care less about software.

Rather, they were a business automation company, and newer models of disseminating that business automation — i.e., the Cloud — should have been at the forefront of their thinking.Like Google today, Facebook, in a decade’s time, will likely be scrambling to catch-up with the next evolution of commerce and collaboration.

The barriers protecting the disruption of Facebook’s stronghold are lower than we think, and rest more with their brand and name recognition.But what Kodak’s story reminds us, more than anything, is that innovation does not require an organization to create a new identity.Sometimes ‘innovation’ is only a matter of understanding what that identity actually is.


One Response to “A quick thought about innovation as a process”

  1. 1 Innovation |

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