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By defining Innovation, you draw your future (Part 3 of 3)


Innovation = Sales activity

This paradigm usually appears when a customer tells you that he “misses innovative proposals from you”. As you might have figured out, this is a Sales activity but not an Innovation one: Proposing something is selling, not innovating.

Anyway, we must question ourselves who is really innovating just in case we’ve successfully sold something innovative:

  • We? If we are distributing a third-party solution or selling items from our own Portfolio, obviously not. However, if we are involved on a Solution Sales process, there is room for innovations as part of the Solution Design.
  • Our customer? Not necessarily, but most likely. We will revisit this point later on when the paradigm “Innovation = Catching up” paradigm gets commented, though.
  • Both? Any combination of these two previous considerations.

These situations, though, are usually very nice opportunities to grab feedback that could be used to enrich your Innovations. So, we should better not turn them down!

Innovation = “What we have never done before”

This paradigm can show up when there is something new that has to be done. It is just a way to avoid doing something: “as it is something new, it is an innovation and should be done by R&D and not by me”.

As a matter of fact, I can remember a situation where someone was convinced that a “Desktop Backup Solution” should be handed out to R&D because nobody had done it before, not because they were looking for smart and new ways to address the problem

Innovation = Source of financial resources

This paradigm considers Innovation only when the associated activities can be covered with a Grant. Innovation is, this way, a zero-risk bet.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with Grants or with risk control strategies. But, when one tool starts to have more relevance than the goal, we should start being worried.

Innovation = Catching up

This is one of my favorites paradigms :). Not because you used to listen to music on a tape recorder you are innovating because you are going to buy a DVD or an iPod… So, translating this example to the IT world could assert that not because you are adopting virtualization technologies means you are innovating. You are catching up, but you are not innovating.

Innovation = V.I.D.A.

That is to say: Vision + Incubation + Disruption + Adoption. As you can see, this paradigm is closer to a concept that drives future sources of revenue, that invites you to think differently, out-of-the-box, and will drive tangible medium/long term results.

Unfortunately, I haven't found this paradigms as frequently as I think I should.

Last thoughts …

If everything is declared as “Innovation” or if gets defined as “whatever is convenient right now”, nothing makes any sense and the affected organization gets confused with a wrong sense of direction. The same happens when one of more “Fake Innovation Paradigms” are in place. When this happens, the victim will lose its position in the market little by little, mostly on periods of “war” and “build”.

In my humble opinion, a vision of a competitive market helps a lot to narrow this concept and to address the challenges that Innovation brings to the table of any organization. I also find that identifying what the things are NOT, becomes very handy when you face the problem of defining something blurry. Hopefully, you can take this much further for your particular situation.

I know that the examples that I’ve used may not be perfect… It is also very likely, that more paradigms have been left behind because I didn’t experience them… You may agree with me on some of my points, but maybe you can’t share with me many others… However, the important question is, in my opinion, to realize the implications of failing to find the right answer. We live very fast moving times and, sometimes, there is no second chance …

Well, that’s my point of view from my particular experience. But, which is yours? What do you think? Have you experienced similar situations?

Picture: “1701-D” by Kreg Steppe. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-20.


By defining Innovation, you draw your future (Part 3 of 3) by Carlos Veira Lorenzo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Published in Strategy Vision