How to innovate – four key stages in the innovation process

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We suggest that innovation is a core process concerned with renewing what the organisation offers (its products and / or its services) and the ways in which it generates and delivers these.  Whether your business is involved with bricks, bread, banking or baby care, the underlying challenge is still the same.  How to obtain competitive advantage through innovation and through this survive and grow?

At this level we suggest that businesses have to manage four phases making up the innovation process.  They have to:

  • Scan and search their environments (internal and external) to pick up and process signals about potential innovation.  These could be needs of various kinds, or opportunities arising from research activities somewhere, or pressures to conform to legislation or the behaviour of competitors – but they present the bundle of stimuli to which the business must respond.
  • Strategically select from this set of potential triggers for innovation those things which the business will commit resources to doing.  Even the best resourced organisation cannot do everything, so the challenge lies in selecting those things which offer the best chance of developing a competitive edge.
  • Resource the option – providing (either by creating through R&D or acquiring through technology transfer) the knowledge resources to exploit it.  This might be a simple matter of buying off the shelf, or exploiting the results of research already carried out – or it might require extensive search to find the right resources.  It is also not about embodied knowledge, but about surrounding the bundle of knowledge which is needed to make the technology work.
  • Implement the innovation, growing it from an idea through various stages of development to final launch – as a new product or service in the external marketplace or a new process or method within a business.

Of course there are countless variations on this basic theme of how businesses actually carry this out.  And much depends on where they start from.

For more information on how we can support your business to innovate and grow please contact us.

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