Let’s be clear: innovation is not a one-off Eureka moment. Archimedes had spent a lifetime as a scientist before his insight that the volume of water he displaced in his bath must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, while Newton didn’t really discover gravity because an apple fell on his head.
Instead, innovation is a process, one which takes time, focus and effort. In our industry, I would describe innovation as “the process of creation of new value in anticipation of future demand”, and this, inevitably, means change.
When you look at the market, it’s evident that the companies who re-invent themselves are the ones who come out on top. In fact, in disruptive and dynamic market conditions, innovation and the change it brings is actually the safest strategy to ensure business growth and obtain a competitive edge.
Take a look at Amazon and its reported move into lingerie and the launch of a $10 bra. While at first glance bras might not be a natural fit for the ecommerce giant, a closer examination shows there’s plenty of support for this move. Amazon knows its customers are buying bras, it knows the desired price point, they know which designs are popular and, of course, they already have the distribution capabilities. As one headline writer asked, is this a disruption that could make Victoria’s Secret “go bust?”
There’s also no magic method to innovation; companies have to constantly innovate their innovation methods to suit the challenges and characteristics of their particular organisation and markets. In our industry, customer centricity is a key factor for success, which led to Amdocs transforming the way we work to becoming a design-led organisation, in which the end user experience is the beginning of the design process, and not an afterthought.
Another myth around innovation is that all you need is a good idea. True, without the idea, there would be no innovation but you must be able to execute on the idea for it to count as a successful innovation. Although it sounds like an oxymoron, companies need a process of systematic innovation in which ideas are encouraged, and the right platforms exist to ensure they can be tested, validated or di-validated and executed. You don’t want a situation in which ideas are generated, and then nothing happens with them because there is no systematic way of treating them.
And finally, as Scott Berkun writes in a blog post based on his best-selling book The Myths of Innovation, you can lock away that image of the lone innovator in the garage. Within organisations, the best innovation occurs when you engage teams from different areas of the company because even if you have the most brilliant idea, you need to be able to leverage the organisation to execute it. It’s simply not possible to do it alone.
Today’s world is also an era of open collaboration, so large organisations need to adopt open innovation strategies that allow them to drill significant holes in their organisational structures, as well as look outside into the wider ecosystem for partners with whom they can co-innovate. Putting innovation into practice demands teamwork.