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Is innovation important to your success?  If so, can you make it happen?   Many do not know how -- even though innovation is vital to business value and successful results. 

Research over the past 20 years reveals that organizations creating and capturing value are consistently outperforming those who see innovation as optional or not applicable to their needs. Reports also conclude that although people value innovation they fail to be innovative. Instead, they tend to focus on research and development (R&D), university studies, new technology, and new product development (i.e. invention). 

Although innovation concepts are simple to accept, they are considerably harder to apply.  It’s not easy!  So, it takes an “intrapreneur.”  Intrapreneurs are a step beyond “entrepreneurs.” They take risks to solve problems beyond what most will do.  They will likely pursue one task requested and work to identify and eliminate all risks to get the job done completely. They innovate ways to improve everything, striving to leave nothing undone.1   

What is innovation?  What does it look like?  How do you achieve it? How is it measured and rewarded?  How could you be more innovative in your own situation, business? 

A simple six-stage Innovation Process (shown below) helps to answer all of that.  To understand innovation, imagine it growing from the center of the target where you see a ? mark behind the red circle at the center – the ? comes first, which helps establish the target (the red circle).  From that point, the four stages of innovation develop: Idea Generation, Evaluation, Development, Implementation.  The circle shows the four stages progressing within your strategy, relationships, structures, processes, products and you! The chart explains the innovation process steps needed to make it flow.

 Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 17.34.23

table 1-01

As shown in the Innovation Process above, you can apply innovative actions to many areas:

Moving forward

  • Strategies for your success -- however you define them -- might range from marketing and sales to financial and people.
  • Relationships with customers, suppliers, colleagues, staff, the community and even your family: innovating along a business eco-system creates outstanding win-win scenarios.
  • Structures - how you position yourself for long term success.  Most organizations are still structured along military lines designed hundreds, even thousands of years ago.
  • Processes - what you do, how you operate, the work being done, from administration to production and operations, to sales and marketing.  Every process can be improved and some really need innovation.
  • Products - this is the easily recognized type of innovation for people to understand, and it applies to products and services, from branding new widgets to extending already successful products.
  • You - this is an area many people struggle with - re-inventing themselves.  And yet in today's rapidly changing world, with an aging population, the need and ability for individuals to adapt is crucial. You can innovate yourself, and organizations should help make that happen.

So, innovation is simple, but not easy!

If you are truly innovative, you will deliberately focus on people, time and resources to achieve the right innovation, but determining when and where innovation is needed or wanted is not easy.  It requires leadership, study, analysis and creative thinking to advance – and intrapreneurship, perseverance and boldness to implement.

Perhaps the task is to scan and research broadly on the subject and write a properly referenced 2500-word report on what you learn -- not what you find -- but what you learn about making innovation happen.

Not a bad idea, but in reality, most organizations and people wait for innovation to happen, for things to change and then they swing into action - sometimes willingly, but many times with resistance.  If you watch trends carefully, do scenario planning, and are willing to test, trial, take risks and wait for opportunities to build on new innovation – you have the advantage. But, again, few organizations even do this, most simply react under pressure.

Leaders in innovation are organizations that strategically focus their innovation effort, skill their people in creative thinking techniques, encourage and even institutionalize intrapreneurship, allow time and space for innovative effort, develop processes to generate and develop ideas, and implement quickly.   

Strategic Innovation is a game changing approach to business, as the strategic thinking guru Peter Drucker said many years ago "There are only two functions in business - marketing and innovation."   And in my view, both require creative thinking.

Where does your organization stand?  Are you making innovation happen or just talking about it?


  1. Related articles:

Entrepreneur vs Intrapreneur: Understanding the Difference;

When You Should Be an Intrapreneur Instead of an Entrepreneur



In his role as IACCM’s Business Development & Member Advocate, Bill’s primary role is building IACCM brand awareness and expanding the depth and breadth of member engagement across Australasia.  His core focus is on increasing the number of member organizations and engaging them with the incredible resources and courses IACCM has to offer. Bill is also Co-Founder of Mindwerx International, which started in 1999, and he is considered to be a thought leader in helping others understand, interpret and apply the vast amount of information available on creativity and innovation.

Contact information

Bill Jarrard
Mindwerx International
+61 (0)419 645 299

Bill Jarrard, IACCM - Business Development & Member Advocacy, Australia

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