FROM THE TRENCHES
Wildly Innovative? Tell Us About It
By Brian Denker
Growth, Innovation and Leadership
Frost & Sullivan
A recent survey of 1,200 CEOs revealed that growth is among their top objectives. However, a bit more revealing was that the same group of CEOs also sought to be more innovative and to develop a stronger vision for the future. Interestingly, when asked where they felt their company ranked in terms of being innovative, more than 52 percent felt they were already within the top ten percent of their industry.
What does that really mean?
Could it be that half of these 1,200 CEOs (or their 600 companies) are in the market providing tangible products and solutions that address the unmet needs of an industry, AND at the same time, have brought to market a completely new and wild solution?
Innovation is often subjective in nature. If we were to ask these same 600 CEOs to define what is innovative, I’m certain we would hear varied definitions all which support a self-prophesying vision for their organization’s growth and position in the industry.
During an award acceptance speech this past year, a well-respected Silicon Valley veteran made a profound reference to innovation. She connected innovation to one’s ability to think outside of the box (or what I would call being a visionary). Further, she stated that in order to continue to think beyond the tried and true, innovators need to shield themselves from what is often the accepted standards and norm in the world around us. If we allow external factors to influence the way we think, we are not truly thinking outside of any box, but within it, which prevents us from being able to become innovative.
There are many examples of what companies claim to be “innovations” in the modern world. Some include the iPad, various Google products, 3D TV, electric vehicles, etc. But are these truly innovations or simply technology improvements? I posit that true innovation falls within two categories: first, the product or solution must address an unmet need, and second, the product or solution is not currently a known and/or existing solution with a different application.
Innovations can be grouped into one of four categories:
1. New Technologies
2. Product Improvements
3. New Application
4. WILD INNOVATIONS
Determining what category your product or service will fall into is based on these two key questions:
1. Does this impact an unmet need?
2. Is this currently a known solution?
This logic, applied across any industry, product or solution will help us look toward the future and identify the key innovations in today’s world. Visually depicted:
There are so many companies revolutionizing around us, that we have yet to consider in terms of how “innovative” their solutions are or how they are changing their industry. As I travel around the globe with our Global GIL Community of visionaries, innovators and leaders, I love to hear others’ perspectives on innovation and innovative products. As subscribers to our GIL eBulletin, I’d like to tap into your knowledge base and ask you to contribute your ideas about what you consider to be “Wild Innovation” within your industry. What technologies, applications and improvements are driving change and revolutionizing your marketplace?
To make this even more interesting, those of you with the most creative and “innovative” submissions will have the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming GIL eBulletin and will receive a complimentary registration to attend any one of our Global Growth, Innovation and Leadership Executive Congresses in 2011. Tell us what you feel are some of the most innovative products/solutions coming out of your industry today and where they fall within the four categories of innovation above.
Please email all submissions directly to me at:
or fax (516) 255-5470.