Innovation as “anything that improves anything”


People often think that innovation is someone else’s responsibility. They don’t recognise that they can contribute to innovation by observing what’s going on around them. In our fast moving world, businesses need to be innovative to stay relevant to customers. This means having a culture that encourages innovation- looking at what customers need in the future to keep them happy, not just now.

Having a marketing background I’ve always been interested in innovation. One of my favourite quotes is by Peter Drucker, considered the father of business consulting, who said many years ago: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs”.

Innovation has recently become a buzz word that few understand and that can even frighten some people.

I like to define innovation as “anything that improves anything” to emphasise that we can all contribute to it when we see a problem that’s easy to solve or an opportunity that’s easy to implement. And when we work in a culture that encourages innovation we feel more valued and want to contribute more. We can even have fun at work!

Getting the views of frontline people serving customers has always been important. Now people in the backroom also need to be vigilant. Are the current technologies you’re using fast enough? Are the competitors using something better?

Businesses trying to be successful need to encourage their people to see the changes around them and report back how services and products can be improved, and this message has to come from the top. There are much better tools to do this now than a few years ago when businesses were more authoritarian and only suggestion boxes were used. A recent development has been to appoint a Chief Innovation OfFicer and to engage innovation coaches.

Another recent development has been the technology for creating platforms, on which many startups are based. Because of my belief that innovation starts with us all being more observant, I’ve created an innovation platform called IdeaSpies which encourages innovation by focusing on noticing the clever ideas around us.

Lynn Wood-Chief Idea Spy


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