When I hear people speak about innovation, or when one sees people present innovation, most of the time it comes back to the same old talk about iPads, iPhones, iPods and other i-something in the making. Many people are still stuck to the same old pattern that innovation is all about bringing new products and technologies to the market and Apple of course is in this aspect the iCon.
Not taking anything away from Apple’s capability to take innovations to the market, we do have to remember that not all companies are like Apple and that Apple’s innovations are not simply product innovations (see an earlier post of mine: “Steal ideas and create value”). There is a lot of service and business modeling part of the innovations they bring to the market.
If we take innovation to a broader platform, innovation is not only about delighting the customer or investing in the newest technology. Innovation is about change that brings value to the stakeholders of your organization. This means that change inside a company that creates no specific value to the customer, but brings value to the stakeholders, should also be seen as innovation. And I am not only speaking about innovation in processes (doing things better, quicker or just differently). No, I am aiming at innovations in finance, innovation in organizational structures and in management practices and management philosophies.
Companies such as Syngenta , that uses barter with their client to improve their business performance (besides helping their customers), Natura (largest Brazilian cosmetics company), that keeps a strong eye on sustainability in everything she does, and Philips, which is bringing flexible work, open workspaces lighting using led lamps into their office in São Paulo, are all companies that want to innovate in the way they work and do business.
What is your companies pipeline and portfolio regarding these type ideas?
And how do you create such portfolio? Well, for that, you will need a large amount of curiosity, braveness and C-level management support. These innovations happen by studying practices not only in your own industries, but far beyond your industry, and by keeping up with emerging management practices. These innovations happen when you insist in being a pioneer because you believe in what you are doing. Of course this does not mean keeping up with every new trend. It means adjusting and implementing new practices that make sense for your company.
So next time you think about innovation, I hope you think beyond just products, services and technology.
Caspar van Rijnbach is a Brazilian based innovation consultant, author of several international publications and currently responsible for the innovation practice of Ernst & Young Brazil.