What Is Innovation?

We must start with the question, “What is innovation?” To many businesses, innovation appears to be the buzz word for new product development. Some businesses don’t refer to their product development effort anymore. Instead, they talk about their innovation work. However, much of their new product development is incremental and really not “innovative.”

Innovation is bringing forth significantly new or modified products, services, and/or processes. The main driver for innovation is often the courage and energy required to make life better.

Innovation is bringing a new level of performance to go beyond understood and articulated needs. Innovation generally implies something original or beyond the norm and its impact is dramatic in performance, comfort and economical terms. Innovation can be in the form of a product or service. Most innovations are the result of a process that begins with an idea and proceeds to deliver results to markets either directly or as part of an existing or new delivery system.

Thus an innovation initiative involves the whole process from opportunity identification, ideation, or invention to development, prototyping, production, marketing, and sales. Traditional new product development only needs to involve commercialization, while innovation requires the capacity to evolve quickly by adopting new products, processes, strategies, organization, and most importantly market acceptance. Traditionally, the focus has been on new products or processes, but recently, new business models have come into focus—i.e., the way a firm delivers value and secures profits.

Leading Market-Driven Innovation

Leading Market-Driven Innovation requires a new leadership mindset, operational skill set and a definitive toolset. Without all three, an innovation opportunity often falls back into the realm of new product development practice. Leaders must make a decision about their willingness to invest resource into innovation. The payback is usually huge, but the change dynamics are intense. We will speak more to this in subsequent communications.

Learn more about market-driven innovation. Download our white paper, “Leading Market-Driven Innovation for Growth.”

In my next article, I will discuss the principles of leading market-driven innovation. Stay tuned.

About the Author

Ronald E. SullivanRon Sullivan is a Senior Partner at Breakthrough Marketing Technology. He has worked with many businesses on innovation, new product development processes, strategy, building new business models, channels and distribution, and pricing optimization. He has significant expertise in study design, data analysis, and market intelligence.


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