Innovation is revolutionary; innovation is evolutionary
Before we can innovate, we need to analyze what we want to achieve before deciding which approach to take…whether to go for Innovation with a capital ‘I’ or innovation with a lower case ‘i’. The difference for me is; Innovation is revolutionary – new and disruptive, innovation is evolutionary – incremental advances. Both have advantages.
Most of us tend to focus on Innovation (with a capital ‘I’), it’s more newsworthy and exciting. We think it’ll get us where we want to go now, better, faster. But how do we decide if now, better, faster is really right for us? We need to evaluate where we are, what our capacity is and how much stakeholder appetite there will be for significant transformation. It may turn out that major change is the only way forward that will deliver the success we desire.
Yet, often evolutionary innovation is more suited to our current operation. We can make changes in a controlled, incremental manner. Often we overlook incremental improvements as they’re not as sexy as Innovation.
Knowledge@Wharton gives an excellent example of the value of management and evaluation being at the heart of any innovation strategy. LEGO, the toy maker, in the early 2000’s proactively initiated a culture of Innovation, looking for both new products and unexploited markets to conquer. It had not understood the adverse impact of extra organizational complexity, inventory issues, rises in cost prices and most importantly the lack of consumer appetite for these new products. After a few short years, a nearly bankrupt LEGO stopped capital ‘I’ Innovating and started small ‘I’ innovating – concentrating on improvements and changes within its well-known, well-loved and well-understood core brand. It regained the ground it lost and is now according to Forbes, the Number 1 toy maker in the world.
Once you have initiated whichever innovation policy is best suited to your particular circumstances, keep on evaluating! It is important not to sit back and just hope that everything is going to plan. Get feedback. Change direction if you end up going down the wrong path. Create the culture of strategic evaluation and Innovation/innovation that works best for you.
Ralph is a detail-oriented leader who gets things done. As a partner at Incrementa Consulting, he ensures there are no gaps in which execution can fail. You can connect with Ralph on Twitter or read more of his thoughts on the Incrementa website.