Innovation is described as an “evolutionary process, the accumulation of wealth through the accumulation of less useful but more extensive forms of input, over time.” Innovation is considered to be the process by which things become more useful and products and processes become more effective. It is the resultant of human effort, development, improvement, modification, innovation, progress, and adaptation.

Innovation is most often associated with generating new market share. However, innovation can also be used to create new market segments, address functional problems or increase opportunities for improved functionality. Innovation can be used to improve productivity, cut costs, improve service, and create competitive advantage. As we move into the twenty-first century, what we refer to as innovation will become an important contributor to society in terms of both creating new market segments and increasing overall well-being.

Innovation requires a synergistic approach from senior management and rank and file employees. Innovation strategies need to be structured to address the actual needs of the company. Innovation strategies become crucial when senior management commits to an innovation program focused on value creation through new product designs and process improvements. The truth is that innovation is at the heart of just about every successful business. Innovation helps to support and drive organizational growth and when properly implemented, innovation becomes a critical part of building an organization’s core competency.

Most companies believe that the answer to being innovative is a constant stream of fresh ideas coming from top management. Creating new market segments or new customer segments is another great way to create true innovation. However, many companies are discovering that it is much more difficult to do this than they originally perceived. There are many factors that lead businesses to pursue innovation and each organization must define and articulate a set of goals before moving forward with an innovation agenda. Often, the definition of what a company considers as disruptive innovation will vary between organizations, which makes creating a common goal almost impossible.

The best approach to defining innovation is to put yourself in the position of the innovator. What would you like to change or improve your company or profession so that you can create a competitive advantage? Innovation is not a one time event. It is something that occurs over time and shifts in society. When you create a long-term plan to incorporate innovation and develop a disciplined implementation strategy, you will find that you can stay ahead of the curve and achieve your goals and objectives.

In summary innovation is a key ingredient in a growing economy. Companies that can successfully define innovation and then execute them successfully will be those that emerge as leaders. Companies that cannot identify and measure their own innovation risk being left behind. Many businesses struggle with how to create new value and the inability to execute innovation. If you believe you have a true ability to innovate, but are not yet ready to define it, begin to implement a strategy that will help you discover and capitalize on your innovation potential.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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