Revealing big words: Innovation

The word “innovation” has recently become very popular and seems to be one of the most overused business terms: there are technological innovations, policies supporting innovation and even innovative television productions. There are many definitions of the term “innovation”, but they all refer only to the creativity and ingenuity of individuals. Nothing more confusing.

The word “innovation” was used for the first time in the 15th century, but with todays colloquial meaning as “turnaround” we can find it in the works of N. Machiavelli (The Prince, 1513) and F.Bacon (Of Innovations, 1625). The word “innovation” became associated with technology and is used interchangeably with the term “invention”, because of the Industrial Revolution and the development of patent law. Austrian economist Josheph Schumpeter (1883-1950) was the first who split these terms and gave birth to the modern meaning of innovation. According to him innovation means a change that generates value. Thus, innovation can do without a patent, but a patent does not necessarily have to be an innovation. Will it provide us with any value to patent a device for mining on the Moon if there is no coal?

Following Schumpeter’s theory, it can be easily noticed that innovation is not magic and in the market game every entrepreneur is an innovator trying to provide customers with some unique value. Neither competitive advantage nor business success is possible without innovations.

However, a closer look at the following study of Harvard and Deloitte shows that it is very risky to create an innovation.

Innovations failure chart

According to Frost and Sullivan’s studies (2008) the chance of growth generated by an innovation is less than one percent! So it is not surprising that the creation and implementation of innovation raises resistance. And an obvious question appears: how to minimize the risk if an innovation is so essential?
The ideasoften are a brilliant discovery of an extremely creative individual, but if we look closer, it appears that this person or company with the respectiverelevant people that intuitively turned it all into a good idea. An example of this is the great success of Apple iTunes Store and the iPod that resulted from the unique combination of Steve Jobs’s passion for technology and art and the problem of music piracy (condition).

Each value creation process, even if independent, partly subconscious, intuitive or, as in the Apple example, at random, is always carried on according to the following model: beginning with the needs discovery and formulation of the problem, then going through the problem analysis, seeking solutions and their evaluation, to end up with the final proposal of the market value.

To encourage the creativity, many attempts were made and many tools were created such as brainstorming. Even Steve Jobs recommended the use of psychoactive substances. However, the current state of knowledge about the human brain and psyche does not foresee the creation of methods that give good and reproducible results on demand.

Therefore, an observation and control of the objective elements of the process, such as needs, problems associated with them and their solutions may be an alternative way of controlling the subjective process of creative thinking.

Is it possible to create the methodology that gives the analytical tools to control the process of innovation – in other words gives innovation on demand? The development of systems carried on by mankind (organizations, products, services) is conducted by using the multiplicity of factors which makes it look as chaotic as the movement of water molecules (below picture on the left). But when we look at the same molecule with the proper perspective, we see that the flow of water has its own direction and we can predict where it will be in the future.

Analogous rules in the field of human workmanship were discovered in the USA by Greg Yezersky. His observations enabled him to create a reliable set of business methodologies known as GTI (General Theory of Innovation), which for the last 20 years have proved their reliability by serving top organizations such as NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop or Ford in the area of innovation, solving complex problems, providing reliable forecasts, and helping to create breakthrough products and services. Now we can find GTI methodologies and applications also on the Polish market about which you will find out more soon.

Greg Yezersky is the creator of the General Theory of Innovation (GTI) . Greg has been in the business of innovation since 1983 providing consulting services for many Fortune 500 companies. He has taught GTI and its applications globally in both commercial and academic settings. Mr. Yezersky is also a renowned TRIZ expert (certified in 1988 by Genrich Altshuller, the creator of TRIZ) with more than 25 years of experience. He has also created and led the Institute of Professional Innovators.

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