May 2012: Innovation. Everyone’s talking about it – just take a look at the contents of any leading business journal in the last few months. Everyone wants to be at the forefront of it. But it’s tough. It’s not just about having a good idea; it’s about translating creativity into action in the market or environment in which you are operating. As Thomas Edison put it: "Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."
So why all this interest in innovation? Because the world is changing faster than ever before; uncertainty and volatility are the norm. Global trends are driving new markets, new customer and consumer needs, new technologies, new business models for value creation and new ways of working, living and behaving. In this environment, even world-leading companies, with dominant and proven business models, ultimately discover limits to growth. They are always in search of the next high-growth market, the next source of value – and if they don’t innovate to realize these opportunities someone else will, often someone that may not even have been considered as a potential player. Think about which company now dominates the music market – a “computer” company, Apple. Think about how leading food companies are reinventing themselves in the health and wellness market space.
In these shifts there is an emerging pattern: Innovation is becoming more and more distributed. Industry-level innovation is no longer the province of the traditional players – the notions of value and industry are being shaken up more often than not by players from outside the industry or small start-ups with radical ideas and/or technologies, who even more radically focus on needs and customers/consumers than industry boundaries. How value is created is becoming even more distributed as new models for sourcing and executing on ideas expand, from crowdsourcing to crowdfunding to word of mouth and peer recommendations. Everyone is – or can be – an innovator, thanks to rapid advances in communications and information technology that is shifting knowledge around the world faster than ever across multiple, self-configuring networks.Continue