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News Article

Innovation Beyond Traditional Boundaries

By Alessa Flores | Fri, 05/08/2020 - 12:31

Innovation is a confusing and buzzy word in the business world. It is normally associated with the use and implementation of technology. However, it is a dynamic concept based on attracting new ideas to maintain the operations, products, services and processes of a company fresh and updated. It is also based on performance, focused on markets and locally adapted and aligned, according to Sika, a global chemical company for the construction and automotive sectors, based in Baar, Switzerland.

There are various theories of innovation that have evolved throughout history. For example, Schumpeter’s Theory of Innovation states that the cyclical process of change in investment accompanied by monetary expansion are the major factors behind business fluctuations that are considered innovative. For others, like Elon Musk, innovation is the sum of small innovations. “When somebody has a breakthrough innovation, it is rarely one little thing. It is usually a whole bunch of things that collectively amount to a huge innovation,” said Elon Musk at Henry Ford’s Stories of Innovation. Similarly, the sum of different organizational, economic, entrepreneurial, business and technological perspectives makes the essence of innovation to be based on change and progress, according to Emerald Insight. 

However, desire is not enough to achieve true innovation; strategies become the firm ground to advance towards change. Strategies are how the breakthrough of innovation happens, according to Andrew Hargadon, writer of How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate. Hargadon explains that the main mistake CEOs make is thinking about where they want to go and forgetting how they want to get there.

Most times, CEOs and executives focus on debating their strategic positions based on low costs or competitive strategies such as their logistics capabilities. However, this makes executives focus on picking markets and competencies, rather than on coming to grips on how they can discover, shape and execute strategies more effectively, according to Hargadon.

One of the recommendations is to start thinking about innovation beyond technology. According to Hargadon, we must think of innovation as a holistic process that includes technological networks, people, ideas and objects. Thus, the way in which a network is built and the relationship between its elements can be a more successful way of reaching innovation. 

In addition, we must be clear about where we want to go, but also be very clear about the steps of how we are going to achieve it. And think of innovation, not as a single item, but as a holistic and complex process toward progress that crosses the traditional limits of business innovation.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Andre B. Hargadon, Elok Musk, Henry Ford’s Foundation
Photo by:   Jarmoluk
Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst