In the three-step to innovation

Disclosure
This article has been entirely translated by the AI of DeepL.com
Dieser Artikel wurde vollständig von der KI von DeepL.com übersetzt

Competition is intensifying, margins are eroding and innovative start-ups are pushing the sluggish giants. Well-known companies such as Kodak, Nokia or Blackberry have not only lost much of their former nimbus of the innovative pioneer and dominant market leader, they are now fighting for survival. If the literature is to be believed, there seems to be only one survival strategy for the narrow-minded big companies: innovation, innovation, innovation. At Amazon. com alone, more than 60,000 books are available, including the buzzword „Innovation“ in the title. Against this backdrop, it would seem fitting to pretend apodictically that the Holy Grail of Innovation has been found here for the first time and finally. Nonetheless, the economy has by no means implemented all the knowledge gained in science, which is why it still seems necessary to write about innovation development.

Asking the right questions

The range of specialist books on innovation development is so vast that managers are often helplessly lost in this wealth of tips and tricks. In order to regain orientation, it is helpful to take a step back and focus on the big picture. Before a specific innovation process can be initiated, much more elementary hurdles have to be overcome. The focus is on the following three fundamental questions, which have to be answered in advance and the problems associated with them have to be solved:

  • Why are innovations not sought after?
  • Why are innovations not found?
  • Why are innovations not implemented?

Only when this triple leap has been recognised and mastered can specific innovation development be tackled with the aid of the numerous existing innovation tools.

Why are innovations not sought after?

Innovations rarely arise from a nocturnal, alcohol-induced inspiration, as was the case with Mark Zuckerberg and his idea of „Facebook“ according to Hollywood. Rather, innovation must be deliberately sought; and this is more difficult than it seems. The increasing rationalization and standardization of work processes has led to the fact that in most companies, almost every step of the work process is organized efficiently and thus cost-effectively, but this has stifled the innovative spirit of the employees unconsciously – but negligently. Due to the modern working culture in which efficiency is paramount, the working person has no desire or air to think about anything other than the next work activity. Every minute that he does not use efficiently in the sense of his partial work step is interpreted as a weakness. And if one of these humane quasi-robots has an innovative idea during the whole process, then a long, complicated approval and decision-making process leads to the fact that it wears off and eventually fades away. For many employees, there is therefore hardly any incentive to take the trouble to look for innovations at all. And it seems tautological that innovations that are not sought after are not even found. The first hurdle that an organization must overcome in order to increase its innovative strength is the creation of a working culture that encourages employees to critically question the status quo. However, eliminating an efficiency-driven corporate culture is only the beginning. Other measures will often include management style, internal communication, the establishment of an error culture or the flexibility of working hours.

Why are innovations not found?

Much has already been achieved if the organizational culture has been changed in such a way that employees have the time and desire to seek innovation potential. However, this willingness must now be promoted and supported in the best possible way. Similar to the unwillingness to look for innovation, the inability to find innovation has its origins in the hectic everyday business: acute deadlines, dissatisfied customers, impatient superiors or nagging suspects hinder creative development. In addition, there are further destructors such as a lack of visibility for the overall picture or a suboptimal allocation of resources such as time, money or necessary competences. One possible solution to this problem is the centralisation of innovation development in a corporate university. Many large companies have already introduced the concept of a „corporate university“ developed in the 1980s for the company’s own continuing education. This institution could be used for innovation development in the sense that selected employees from all management and specialist areas could be brought together at the Corporate University for a limited period of time and work together on new innovations in heterogeneous teams, optimally equipped with rest, time, money and competence. Of course, such an organization is not suitable for finding innovation for all companies and of course other ways can lead to the goal. It is essential, however, that the solution of the above-mentioned basic problem is in the foreground and that the company does not lose itself in modern innovation tools, which would be suitable in principle, but cannot develop their suitability, because unfavourable framework conditions hinder the identification process. Metaphorically speaking, there are many ways to find innovation, but the hiking backpack for the arduous journey should always be filled with enough rest, time, money and necessary competence, because otherwise the provisions are not sufficient to reach the goal.

Why are innovations not implemented?

Once an innovation has been found, this does not necessarily mean that it will be implemented. In a company, hardly all those affected will be enthusiastic about the upcoming innovation. Rather, some will fear a loss of power or even a loss of existence, others will not be convinced of the idea and others will in principle shy away from changes. It is therefore essential that the implementation process be prioritised. It is not enough to search for and find many good ideas. In order for the innovation found to really benefit the company, it must be implemented. The challenge is not to convince the inventors and the „early adopters“ of the new direction; rather, the masses must be moved to change. How this can be achieved has also been explained by science in numerous books. Amazon. com, for example, has almost 90,000 books entitled „Change Management“. It therefore seems equally bold to proclaim new insights in the management of change processes. Nevertheless, the economy does not yet seem to fully understand how it can use the achievements of science.

The essence of the triple step

As an interim conclusion, we can draw the following conclusion: In today’s world, innovation development usually requires a step backwards in order to get the big picture back in view. Once the goal has been set, a prosperous culture of innovation needs to be developed in a three-step process. The focus is on this:

  • The elimination of the efficiency-driven corporate culture in order to facilitate the search for innovations.
  • The adequate allocation of resources such as rest, time, money and competence in order to optimise the search for innovations.
  • The competent management of change processes to ensure the implementation of innovations.

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