The reason that I think innovation is important is that it is the driver for growth. Here are some of the reasons that I think it’s important to link innovation with growth:
- It answers the “so what?” question. Innovation for the sake of innovation is pointless, and can be destructive. For innovation to work, it has to be tied to purpose. Innovation is about executing new ideas to create value – and if we are creating value, then we will be growing. Not necessarily financially, but at least in terms of impact.
- Innovation must be tied to your purpose and strategy. Again, it’s not enough just to “be innovative.” You need to innovate to support your core purpose.
- Growth happens at multiple levels. When you get good at executing your ideas to create value, it helps you grow. It can lead to increased opportunities, and helps you generate even better ideas that create even more value. This is true for people, and it’s also true for firms. It’s even true for regions – innovation is the one thing that reliably distinguishes regions and countries that grow more quickly than others.
- Innovation requires change – growth reminds us that change can be good. Resistance to change is often cited as a barrier to innovation, but there are some types of change that people welcome, or even seek out. Growth is an example of good change.
- Everything grows. Skills grow, firms grow, economies grow, impact grows, reach grows, your network grows – and innovation drives all of this growth.
- Not all growth is good. When cells grow out of control in a person, it’s cancer. Not all growth is good. This is why the link to purpose and strategy is so essential. Growth just for the sake of growth is counterproductive. It’s important to remember this.
As Peter Drucker said:
Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation.
Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.
Innovation for growth – I think this better reflects what we’re about. What do you think?
image credit: graph cloud image from bigstock
Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.