What does innovation mean in your organisation?

07 October 2010

It's talked about a lot and written in many organisations' value statements and businessplans. But what does innovation really mean? Actually, the key question is 'What doesinnovation mean to your organisation?'

Before you read further take a minute to think about the role innovation plays in your organisation now. Does your organisation need to introduce new products or services to maintain your competitive advantage or in some cases survive financially as funding becomes more and more difficult to obtain? Maybe yours is an organisation with tight margins and is always on the lookout to reduce costs. Or maybe your organisation needs new ways to fund your operations, but how do you differentiate yourself? Now think ahead 3, 5, and even 10 years. Will your organisation still be delivering the same products and services in the same way in 3, 5 or 10 years? If not, how will you identify which products and services to deliver in which ways? Any of these are triggers for innovation and can be used to create value and competitive advantage in any of these areas. In an increasingly competitive environment, organisations cannot afford to see the future as more of the present and an extension of the past.

So what does innovation mean in your organisation? Innovation can be about new products, new processes, new services (including new uses of established products, processes and services), new forms of organisation, new markets, and the development of new skills and human capital. It can be incremental improvements or radical changes. However, innovation is more than ideas. It's about creating value from ideas. What type of value is important to your organisation? Is it social value - delivering on your charter, or commercial value - revenue and profitability (thereby having more funds to provide new services), or maybe organisational value - building capability and capacity?