Innovation is a discipline like Marketing and Finance. It needs to be designed, managed and optimized.
Creativity is an easy subject to write about but also a difficult one. Creativity is too heavily linked to novelty rather than purposeful creativity that powers up innovation and create positive and sometimes disruptive change. I am looking forward to finish writing this and move on to my day job – which is helping clients with design thinking tools, frameworks, processes and organizational design to make innovation a discipline.
The key difference between creativity and innovation is that while any idea can be an expression of creativity, it must create both customer value and economic value, and preferably social value, for it to be considered innovation. Innovation is a discipline. It is not a group of people pumping out ideas (which is the easy part); innovation is essentially the application of high creativity, applied across different disciplines from product design to marketing and channel strategy.
How can innovation be turned into a discipline? It is the discipline of getting deep customer insight;the discipline of sense making from different data sources; the discipline of managing ideas along the innovation life cycle; the discipline of capturing the imagination of customers and employees; and the discipline of managing internal resistance and stakeholder expectations.
The discipline needs to crossover with strategy, marketing, insight and product development in order to create breakthrough ideas, to fuel growth, to completely transform the ways that companies are managing themselves on the front end and the back end of their processes.
There is an interesting event Optimizing Innovation 2011 (3rd Annual Cross-Industry Event) to be held in New York City, Oct 19th and 20th. A very interesting speaker list includes Fabienne Jacquet (Director, External Innovation Global Technology at Colgate Palmolive), Pascal Mignolet (International Marketing/Intelligence Director Coffee & Tea at Sara Lee),Jorge Carbo (Senior Innovation/Project Director at Nike), Dondeena Bradley (VP, Global Design & Development at Pepsico) and Hannes Erler (VP Innovation at Swarovksi). It is a great opportunity to get to learn the secrets of success from the most experienced innovators so to put these ideas into practices. See you there.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.