Page 2: What is innovation?
Have you helped to run a Young Enterprise Company or had any work experience? Think about the shops you go to, the forms of transport you use, and the products found in your home. Which of these do you consider to be innovative and which are not? Consider what makes something innovative.
You may well have described as innovative the goods and services which most closely serve your particular needs. But your needs are never static, they change and develop over time. New trends in fashion, spending power, concerns for the environment - all influence your needs and tastes as a consumer.
To adapt to the changing concepts of customer service, companies need to develop new manufacturing or management processes in order to develop new products and services. This gives them a cutting edge over their competitors. Innovative companies are those which have a sharp customer-focus. They consider the needs and preferences of their customers to be one of the essential elements for success. The most successful companies are those which are best able to meet these changing needs.
So, what is innovation?
Firstly it is not just another word for invention. Inventions are very important because they are part of the creative process which helps to develop new ideas and products. But relatively few inventions become products (i.e. invention is about developing new ideas, about how to do things, but is not necessarily about actually doing them). Invention may be part of the process of innovation but innovation is much broader. Innovation embraces the whole spectrum of ideas, attitudes and structures within an organisation - a framework within which continuous improvement in products, services and processes can be made. Innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas; it is the total process of developing a new concept into a new product or process which adds value to the business. This process has to be recognised and managed.
When you are a member of an organisation, never think “innovation does not involve me”. It embraces all people, the jobs they do, the systems they follow and the technology they use and is an essential part of good management. It applies as much to the school or college which you attend, the family group in which you live and any company you work for or establish yourself. Innovation is part of all business functions - research, design, development, production, purchasing, personnel, marketing, sales, distribution, servicing, training, finance and administration. It is a dynamic process which is as much a part of long-term strategy as it is part of everyday practice.
Innovation is the process of taking new ideas effectively and profitably through to satisfied customers. It is a process of continuous renewal involving the whole company, and is an essential part of business strategy and everyday practice.