A few months ago, Industry Week ran a great article by Blake Glenn of ?What If! that noted that US manufacturers must make a fundamental shift in the way that innovation is perceived and delivered if they are to regain the competitive edge that they need to keep from falling behind. Furthermore, it also noted that while innovation is seen as important in most organizations, the components to drive innovation are often lacking, in need of refinement, or misunderstood altogether. I’d have to agree. There’s not enough innovation out there today. We need more!
The article also listed some of the fundamental and damaging misconceptions that are all too common, and that need to be corrected. Beliefs that “innovation is about process”, “innovation requires significant investments of time and money”, and “innovation lies solely in the hands of R&D” are incorrect and will halt innovation before it has a chance to begin. The fact of the matter is that “innovation is about inspiration and perspiration”, “innovation requires significant investment in the willingness to innovate”, and “innovation lies in everyone’s hands” and that if you don’t accept this, you don’t have much of a chance of becoming an innovative leader. (And considering we’re in a recession, you definitely don’t want to make any innovation mistakes.)
And, most of all, as the article points out, it’s a deeply complex multivariate phenomenon and at its heart lies a single subject: people. People who must think differently, who must be encouraged, who must be empowered, and who must be rewarded for their ideas. They must be encouraged to change and take risks. And to constantly look for better ways to do business as a whole – be it accounting procedure improvement, logistics streamlining, or new product introduction.
Furthermore, new product innovation does not stop with the product – it goes beyond to include everything that has to do with the product and includes packaging, production processes, and distribution. It also covers the entire product life-cycle. It involves designing for efficient manufacturing, designing for minimal packaging requirements, and designing for disassembly and recycling.
It’s a behavioral shift … and possibly the only one that could save your company if times get tough. Winners persevere and evolve. Losers … well … when was the last time you saw a dodo?