Merriam Webster defines innovation as either "a new idea, method, or device", or "the introduction of something new." While these definitions are technically correct, for anyone who has tried to introduce innovation into their business or whose business depends on innovation for survival, the real story is much more complex.
A true innovation in business goes well beyond the dry, clinical definition and encompasses many things. This includes vision, real-world experience, hardcore R&D, frequent failure, continuous iteration, to name a few. In fact, the actual definition of innovation is so entrenched in these concepts that a single line can't define it. It is a process that takes skill, training, and critical thinking to master, none of which are included in the dictionary definition.
The Value of Business Innovation
The value of business innovation is deeply intertwined with its partner components of aggressive cutting-edge R&D and entrepreneurship. But the combination of these robust processes should be considered strategically. That strategic innovation must be centered around understanding the industry for the product and its demographic. It must also be combined with a business model that exceeds expectations for its customers while optimizing profitability. And it must push business leaders to consider new avenues for their business outside traditional channels to deliver customer-defined value rather than business-defined value.
Insightful Quotes on Business Innovation
To help spur your thinking beyond the dictionary definition and develop the creative and value-driven ideas that encompass the meaning of business innovation, here are seven insightful quotes on business innovation to motivate and inspire.
- On Creativity – "Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." Theodore Levitt. Harvard Business School economist Theodore Levitt summed up the spark that drives innovation but noted the vital next step to bring it to life. DIYGenius.com
- On Failure – "More experimentation inevitably means more chances for failure, yet incumbent organizations are not built to reward risk-taking." As put forth by Patrick Kuehnle, a senior manager at US-based DoorDash, failure is not only likely but also necessary for businesses to break a risk-averse cycle. By failing early and often, optimized designs, new business models, and new processes can rise to the top. GFMag.com
- On Resilience – "Because, you know, resilience – if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you'd be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn't a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities." Jeff Bezos, CEO, and Founder, Amazon. Few people understand innovation like Jeff Bezos. Resiliency often creates more than one path as entrepreneurs find additional avenues for an opportunity in parallel or in place of what they were shooting for. BigComm erce.com
- On Taking a Holistic Approach – "We don't know who discovered water, but we're certain it wasn't a fish." John Culkin. Sometimes, business leaders get mired in the day-to-day minutia and fail to see new paths. Business innovation requires rising above the business itself, having an open mind to change, and looking for and creating unique opportunities. WeWork
- On Leveraging Disruption – "Most industries have shown tremendous agility in leveraging technologies and adapting to the new normal. The digitization will grow further and create demand for electronic products." Vijay Kumar Sachdeva, LRIPL. Few businesses have experienced the kind of disruption that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. But with an agile mindset, many were able to pivot to technology to continue much of their core operations. Along the way, many businesses found new product lines and service offerings that added value to help come through the storm. Yourstory.com
- On Using Innovation as a Business Model – "Our industry does not respect tradition. It only respects innovation." Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. Many times, entrepreneurs find that innovation becomes their business model. This is especially true in industries where consumer tastes change quickly, and the next big thing must meet heightened customer expectations. Inc.com
- On Diversity – "Innovation, by definition, is the diversity of thinking. It's thinking out of the box, and so you are far more likely to engineer sustained innovation if you've engineered diversity of thinking in your organization," Arnold Donald, CEO Carnival. Without diverse thinking, companies risk creating tunnel vision, narrowing their focus rather than expanding it. Diverse teams can develop and broaden innovation initiatives within a company. CNBC
Like entrepreneurship, business innovation is a learned skill set. No matter how natural a new business leader seems in their startup or scale-up, chances are, they have worked long and hard to bring their ideas to life. And when combined with the need for continuous R&D and a lack of adequate mentoring, there is the risk of losing out on a new opportunity because the skills for innovation are missing.
The Innovation and Research group at Georgian College can help businesses and entrepreneurs find their path to successful innovation. With a staff of industry experts, faculty, and student participation, The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College can aid businesses in research, development, mentorship, entrepreneurship, and business innovation.
These resources can be leveraged to help grow and educate a new generation of leaders and hone current leadership skills to help develop an agile and flexible response to business innovation. To find out how we can help, contact us today.