The age of innovations

Innovations have become a very important part of business success. New technology trends give us new opportunities, people demands are increasing and we need smarter ways of working. Every organisation has their own ingredients for creating customer value through their products/services. This means that innovations need to be original and fit for purpose to drive business growth and to become a strong player on a competitive market.

But how do you know that your “innovations” are really innovative?

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That is not an easy question to answer, because it depends on many different things. Nowadays the word “innovation” is used for quite different things and different people tend to have different meaning to it. When penetrating this diverse conception, you will get into a deeper understanding of what innovations really are and what they can help you and your organisation with.

First of all, the foundation of an innovation is that it always starts with some kind of new original idea for improvement and ends up with a realisation of that new idea. The realisation must add some kind of value, or else it is not an innovation.

In order to understand this relation, we will discuss “new idea”, “realisation” and “added value” separately.

New Idea

Anyone in the organisation can come up with good new ideas. It does not mean that every idea is good, but any role in an organisation have a specific insight and perspective that can evoke good ideas by finding new ways. The same goes with customers, partners and suppliers that can contribute based on their perspectives and knowledge.

The new idea can either be:

  1. a new concept realised by a new solution
  2. a new concept realised by an already possessed solution, currently used for another purpose.
  3. a new and better solution to realise a current concept

With use of the word concept above we mean our business conception of “what we need to achieve”. To realise that need we choose solutions that forms the enterprise. Consider the following list of different types of enterprise solutions:

  • Ways of working
  • Roles and responsibility
  • Co-workers
  • Our language to communicating internally and externally
  • Products
  • Services
  • Office locations and supplies
  • Software
  • Infrastructure
  • Technical machines

…the list can be made quite long…

Does this mean that innovations can be invented anywhere by anyone?

Yes, it can! But that does not mean that every new idea should be realised. It is just the ones that adds value worth investing in, you should put into real action.

Realisation

Who in your organisation is responsible for the ordinary development or improvement of the different enterprise solutions mentioned above?

Probably it is different business units for different things. Some are changed ad hoc and some in a more mature way. So the conclusion is that all these business units need to have the ability to handle new ideas and sort out the innovations that adds value worth investing in. These business units should be allowed (with pronounced responsibility) to put innovations into real action, but with involved architectural guidance it can be done efficiently. 

Added Value

How do we sort out good new ideas from not-that-good new ideas?

The easy answer is “good ideas = adds value”.

But a more nuanced answer is that innovations is about revolutionary change. In the very end, they should be seen as a vehicle or catalyst for growth. Our different enterprise solutions are there for different specific purposes, and a good new idea can help us fulfilling that purpose. As stated before, a new idea could even introduce new purposes for achieving the business vision.

Some general purposes where innovations might come to hand:

  • Reaching business goals
  • Improve business operation
  • Improve products or services to increase customer value and strengthen the brand in a competitive market
  • Forming a well performing organisation and motivated co-workers

Innovation model (4)

Innovation principles

To not get stuck in the jungle of innovations invented both internally and externally it is a good practice to let your decisions be guided by the following principles. They will help you stay on track.

  • To reach your goals, your innovations need to do that as well.
  • Innovations can be invented anywhere by anyone, don’t miss the opportunity.
  • Release originality, not anarchy
  • Let the mission and purpose guide you.
  • Prioritize both innovations and regular development initiatives all together.
  • Handle new ideas based on their ROI.
  • With architectural guidance your innovations should be more efficient.
  • Handle innovative concepts or solutions based on how they fit into or improve the business model.