Innovation is one of those topics that every company claims to be exploring and yet nobody can define – or decide how much it is actually worth.
I personally believe that innovation is about looking at things differently. Invention is the creation of something new – innovating is more like the ability to bring various inventions together to create something new. A great example is the iPod. MP3 players already existed before Apple launched the first iPod, but Apple connected their iTunes music store to the iPod and created a way to seamlessly manage your music library and the songs on the device. They built a music ecosystem from various existing ideas and technologies.
It revolutionised the way we used music devices to listen to music, but also started the decline of the CD – yet everything about the iPod existed before, the various ingredients had just not been combined in that way.
Every company can explore innovation by allowing and encouraging their people to see things differently, to allow some exploration of different processes and services. It can be a challenge to see people in the team trying new methods or ideas, but if companies stop exploring they will wither and die. Look at the giants of the mobile handset industry today and compare it to a decade ago for the stark evidence of this.
Allowing your team to be innovative can inspire a change in their behaviour, but it’s always worth remembering one thing. Doing things differently is not automatically innovative, but innovation always means doing things differently.
Photo by Michele MF licensed under Creative Commons