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What is Innovation?

Innovation is composed of two parts: (1) The generation of an idea or invention (2) The conversion of that invention into a business or other useful application Innovation = Invention + Exploitation. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. The exploitation process includes all stages of commercial development, application and transfer, including the focusing of ideas or inventions toward specific objectives, evaluating those objectives, downstream transfer of research and/or development results, and the eventual broad-based utilization, dissemination and diffusion of the technology-based outcomes. The overall management of technological innovation thus includes the organisation and direction of human and capital resources toward effectively: (1) creating new knowledge (2) generating technical ideas aimed at new and enhanced products, manufacturing processes and services (3) developing those ideas into working prototypes (4) transferring them into manufacturing, distribution or other use.

Why to Innovate?
In order to remain competitive, companies look towards innovation. A constant injection of new ideas keeps a company progressive and gives them an edge in the marketplace, especially in todays global marketplace.

Different Forms of Innovation

Technologically innovative outcomes come in many forms: Incremental or radical in degree Modifications of existing entities or entirely new entities Embodied in products, processes or services Oriented toward consumer, industrial or governmental use Based on various single or multiple technologies

Invention vs. Innovation

Invention is marked by discovery or a state of new existence, usually at the lab or bench, whereas innovation is marked by first use, in manufacturing or in a market.

How Idea is Generated ?

Ideas can be drawn from the "market pull" of sensing real or potential customer needs or demands, or from the "technological push" of imagining the possible extension of technological performance of a material, component or system. Managerial research has repeatedly demonstrated that 60 to 80 percent of successful technical innovations seem to have been initiated by "market pull," i.e. forces reflecting orientation to perceived need or demand. But, despite the presumed dominant role of "market pull" as a source of innovative projects, "technology push," i.e. undertaking projects for advancing the technical state-of-the-art in an area without anticipation of the specific commercial benefits to be derived, is also the critical source of many significant product and process successes. Idea creativity arises from managerial influences, for example from the internal organisational climate or environment and especially from supervisory practices.

Radical Innovation vs. Incremental Technology or Process Advancement

Most organized scientific and engineering activity, certainly within the corporation, is beyond the idea generating stage and produces not radical breakthroughs but rather a broad base of incremental technological advance, sometimes leading cumulatively over time to major technical change.

Innovation can start after deciding technical or market goals, it rarely begins with independent invention in large and medium structured business entities. Small or a start up business can have more liberty of independent invention first before exploring market goals

Small vs. Large Organisations

Smaller organisations usually encourage innovation during the earliest emerging stage of a technology, whereas large organisations mostly opt it at transitional and more mature stages of a technology.

Individual vs. Team

Individual research which was popular earlier can not always be valid in the present business world. Now a days, organisations inter department partnership and collaboration turns research into multi-stage, multi-person, complex process. When technical advancement is the goal, managers have long understood that professional depth in an organisation is achieved by teaming people together in their own area of specialization, with work assigned and performance supervised by a more accomplished person of the same specialization. On the contrary it is also true that many of the new inventions and advancements are done by individuals. These innovations are adopted and improvised by medium and large organisations for commercial application.

Discipline vs. Innovation

Innovation requires space and liberty. It cannot be done under stringent structured specified and calculated environment. Moreover, when it is done in distributed architecture effective medium of co-ordination is required to let all the groups and individual work in synergy. Thus, innovation can be supported by management consisting of loose monitoring and strong coordination. Moreover, management should have less invasive control mechanism to have effective control over duplication (reinventing the wheel) and irrelevant vague ideas consuming companys resources. Management should identify bottlenecks and alternative idea formulations can be initiated separately.

Staffing Considerations for Innovation

Profiles required in collective effort of Innovation:
1. Idea Generators Thus idea generators for technical projects may be scientists or engineers, sometimes sales or marketing persons, or even managers. 2. Idea-exploiters Mostly managers, sales and marketing persons 3. Business innovator They supply the support functions of planning, scheduling, monitoring and control, technical work supervision, business and financial coordination relating to the R&D project 4. Gatekeepers or special communicators

They bring information messages from sources outside of a project group into that group.
5. Sponsor or coach

The role is one of providing encouragement, psychic support, facilitation to the more junior people involved in the task implementation.