Innovation Has More Than One Meaning
Every company today wants to be more innovative, seeking an infusion of creative thinking to resolve problems and move ahead of competitors. However, when leaders say “innovation” they are referring to a number of interlocking concepts, as the Harvard Business Review recently attested. (June 21, Satell) Depending on the exact issue facing the company, it will take one of four different forms of innovation to develop an answer:
- Sustaining: When dealing with well-defined problems in markets that already exist, companies can apply common strategies such as design thinking. If leaders are clear on what they have to accomplish and know which skills will help them get there, sustaining innovation is the method of choice.
- Breakthrough: Sometimes, though the problem is obvious, answers have long been elusive. In this case, it’s time for breakthrough thinking, calling in experts in other fields to see if their ideas move the issue toward resolution.
- Disruptive: When industries shift and doubling down on known competencies isn’t enough, it’s time for disruptive strategies, solving new problems facing well-trodden domains.
- Basic research: Performing strenuous research on a newly uncovered concept can pay dividends for companies. Big organizations can try this process in-house, while small companies can work with the government or universities.
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