The importance of innovation

Introduction to innovation

Innovation is important to organizations of all shapes and sizes. Needless to say, innovation is by far the most important key to the success of a startup. By definition, an entrepreneur is someone who detects a problem and is willing to solve that problem through innovations. Therefore the success of a startup comes from the ability of its entrepreneur to:

  • Identify the problems or the demands of the market,
  • Turn those problems into new opportunities
  • Bring the solutions (a new service, product or process) he has to offer to the market.

Invention vs Innovation

Innovation is taking an old product or technique and refines them into a new and usable one. An invention is called an innovation if and only if the organization, which invented it, manages to bring their invention to the market. The process of turning an invention into an innovation is called innovation management. Maital and Seshadri (2012) also refer to innovation as new and better ways of creating value for customers by adding creativity to every part of an organization’s value chain. Maital and Seshadri (2012) explain that the goal of always innovating within an organization is to maintain its competitive advantage “Sustained competitive advantage necessarily requires sustained innovation”. Lee and Trimi (2018) added that innovation is about implementing new ideas or technologies to create new value in different ways than in the past. It's a continuous effort to confront complex challenges therefore innovation is imperative.

Innovation Strategy

  1. Strategic analysis

The organization gathers all the information concerning the market, the customers’ need, the trends, the competitors and everything the political situation. Using all the information, the organization will analyze its threats and opportunities as well as strengths and weaknesses. Based on the analysis the organization will know what they could do to innovate.

  1. Strategic selection

Once the organization knows what they could do, they have to choose the most appropriate one by measuring the risks and rewards.

  1. Strategic implementation

The final step is about implementing the strategy the organization has chosen. The organization will plan for the implementation. They have to think about the resources they need to implement it and how they get these resources.

Different types of innovation : 4P's model

To succeed in managing innovation, an entrepreneur has to understand different dimensions of innovation. Bessant and Tidd introduced the 4P’s model in which they categorize innovation into 4 different types:

  • Product innovation: Innovation of a product or service that an organization is offering.
  • Process innovation: A change in the way the organization creates and delivers its product or service.
  • Position innovation: A change in the way customers perceive the products or services offered by the organization.
  • Paradigm innovation: Paradigm innovation is “ changes in the underlying mental models which frame what the organization does” in other words it means a complete shift to another activity.

Degree of innovation: Incremental and radical innovation

Once the organization makes its choice on what type of innovation they need, they will have to choose how much they want to innovate. There are 2 degrees that the organization could choose when it comes to innovation (Jaime, 2015):

  • Incremental innovation: Incremental innovation is an innovation with a low degree of novelty. It is an improvement of the previous product, service or process. Therefore it presents less risk and cost for the organization than a radical innovation.
  • Radical innovation: Radical innovation on the other hand is an innovation with a very high degree of novelty. It is a complete change of the previous product, service or process. Therefore it is a big challenge but also an opportunity when the organization is willing to take this degree of innovation because the result is non-obvious.

If an organization wishes to survive and grow in today’s environment, innovation is the key to maintain their competitive advantage. Innovation helps the organization to gain competitive advantage over other organizations (Hana, 2013).