Unlocking the Critical Functions for Innovation (Part 1/3)

Sunday, April 15, 2018
Author: Alan Fusfeld

Unlocking the Critical Functions for Innovation (Part 1/3)

1. Defining Innovation – success criteria & winning

a. What is innovation and everyone’s opportunity?

Innovation is a novel way of doing something that can be implemented. It is an idea combined with ways to implement the idea. It must be new for the end-user or customer and preferably, it provides the customer with an improved result. You might have a novel way of doing something but if it does not provide improved results, why bother?

Innovation is everyone’s opportunity because all around us in our work, in the creation of something that we sell, or in our play, there are always better ways of doing things. Innovation matches the unmet need with a solution.

Sometimes innovation depends on technology. The Ipod, the iphone, the ipad are examples where technology makes possible the innovations of small, lightweight devices to provide portable music, a phone that is also a camera and an internet device, etc. We enjoy our music and stay connected more easily than ever before as a result of these innovations.

Sometimes innovation is the system of how everything is organized and tracked by computer programs. Netflix, Amazon and Google are examples of those innovations.

Finally, innovation may derive from observing how a customer can get a better result if we modify the design of our products that we sell.

Whenever we can give a customer a better solution for what they are doing, we are providing a useful innovation. If it is a significantly better solution at a reasonable price, than the innovation will be preferred and lead to increased sales and/or profit.

So we may conclude that innovation is about improving the life of our customers or behind the scenes in our factories or our stores. Innovation is a primary driver of growth and income and therefore is everyone’s opportunity. We should want to be always aware of seeing these opportunities and with teamwork translating these situations into innovations. Innovation may be expressed as a product, as a manufacturing process, as a business process or as a service!

Well-chosen innovation is good for all, but how do we make it happen?


b. What are the stages?

There are five basic stages to any innovation - more stages if you wish to break these five in more detail, but five basic stages:

  • Ideation – which simply means you have an idea for a something to make an improvement in how a product or service is designed or made or how a process is followed that will produce an improved result for the customer
  • Initial design – which is like a “rough draft” of how your new design of a product or process will be different
  • Initial test – which is the activity by which you validate that your new design/innovation is better and receive feedback from test users
  • Final design & final test – this stage may require several iterations and is the activity that modifies the initial design by based upon the results from the initial test and then validates the modified design
  • Production - this is the activity which delivers the innovation to the customer /user - it involves manufacturing, distribution, sales and customer support.

These five stages of innovation are the innovation process that we go through by ourselves or with a team in order to make an innovation happen.

It might happen by you alone in a day if it is something simple such as re-arranging a kitchen, a garage, or a baby’s room in order to improve how well we can do jobs within those rooms. It might happen more slowly, but also by ourselves, if we are setting about to do a home improvement project or re-arrange the flow of work in the office or a factory work station, However, more significant innovations usually requires a team of people over a period of weeks or months in order to have all of the right skills available.

(Continued on Part 2)


Alan Fusfeld is the President and CEO of The Fusfeld Group
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