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Author Topic: Innovation Comes In All Sizes  (Read 1065 times)


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Innovation Comes In All Sizes
« on: January 03, 2012, 04:11:48 AM »

Innovation is often the result of combining two or more ideas to create a third one.

In today’s chaotic business environment innovation has emerged as the primal strategy for driving faster growth, increasing revenue share and even survival! It is increasingly becoming a fundamental factor helping companies cope with disruptive technologies, short product lifetimes, super low cost competition, the need to replace products sooner and the ammunition to face new competition. Innovation is simply not about inventing, re-inventing and churning out new ideas. And, it doesn’t just create new products or services. It unlocks hidden value in existing ones – thereby reinvigorating a business without completely reinventing it. It is a disciplined process by which an idea is generated that result in significant economic value creation and improved customer experience.

Innovations are based on combining ideas in creative new ways by design or accidents or both. Forbes magazine came up with an interactive list of the top 85 innovations that changed the way we live and do business and on that list it includes frozen food as the top innovation of 1924, appropriately followed by the microwave in 1947 and the first electronic digital computer in 1942 and, of course, Pong in 1972. These are no questions big invention as well as big innovations that change our lives. Companies are always for big innovations that include earth shattering new products that will leave the competition in the dust. It is easy for them to overlook small innovations, which bring incremental additional income or – more likely – result in relatively small but nevertheless significant cost savings.

Toyota is a good example of an organization bringing not only big but also small continuous innovation to their products. Many of Toyota's innovations are small and are often about improving the efficiency of their just-in-time logistics. But the results have been very big: Toyota is consistently one of the most – if not the most – profitable car companies in the world year after year.

Whether it is big or small innovation, it is often the result of combining two or more ideas to make a third then two plus two can equal five. In the ancient world one of the great discoveries was that by combining two soft metals, iron and tin, you could create a strong alloy, bronze. In a similar way combining two minor inventions, the coin punch and the wine press, gave birth to the mighty printing press. It is kind of a cook making fusion dishes. The difference here is deciding ‘what’ to combine and the ‘how’ too.

Celebdaq is a weird combination that worked for the BBC is their celebrity stock exchange,. On this site you can take a future option on the media coverage for your chosen celebrity and then watch your option rise or fall in value. By marrying Hello magazine and financial spread betting the BBC has created a radical innovation that is proving very popular.

Nearly every new idea is a synthesis of other ideas. So a great way to generate ideas is to force combination possibilities. Get your team together and let them play with mesh-ups from wildly different sources. Take it to the extreme. How could you combine your key concept with random products, services, places, personalities, etc? The more bizarre the combination the more original the ideas that are triggered. Innovation needs random sources of inspiration, anything from watching people to strange noises from your air conditioner.

Here's one innovation story. Viennese composer Frank Schubert often found musical inspiration in his coffee grinder. The chaotic pitches and rhythms it made often suggested themes to him. He'd find himself grinding coffee, hear something "original" and go straight to the piano to hunt for the notes and phrases that sounded like the patterns the grinder just made. This kind of hearing is akin to what psychologists call "clang association."  So net time if you neighbor is making lots of noises, you can start seeing (hearing) them as sources of innovation!
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 04:19:10 AM by innovator »
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs (American Entrepreneur, Apple co-Founder, b.1955)
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