Can innovation processes be generalised?

Estimated reading time: 2-3 minutes. Can innovation processes be generalised? This is a very interesting question! If innovation processes can be generalised, we have something to learn from the companies that are successful in their innovation efforts.

Innovations in themselves can take many different forms, such as a new product, service, process, or business model. There are several sources of innovation. It can occur as a result of a focus effort by a range of different agents, by chance, or as a result of a major system failure.  Therefore, one may think that these processes are difficult to generalise. This is not the case, however. It is in fact possible, and indeed necessary to generalise innovation processes!

Consider innovation as a process; starts with an idea, and ends with an innovation. In between, the potential idea should be exploited. See the picture below.

Innovation processes


Innovation processes

When referring to ‘innovation’ in the model, I mean successful innovations that have been fully exploited in the form of a commercialised product that the market of today demands, an efficient process, or a new and successful business model. It is not enough to create the world’s most ingenious technical solution if it is left lying in the closet because no customer wants to buy it. Innovation processes usually involve: identifying customer needs, macro and meso trends, developing competences, and finding financial support.

Research shows that those organisations which produce many ideas for multiple innovations also produce more successful innovations in the end. This is a direct correlation. Companies that are unable to generate any ideas for innovations are companies that generate no innovations at all.

Therefore, start with letting your employees continuously come up with ideas for new products, more efficient ways of working, and cost savings. For example, can existing products be launched in new markets? Then allow employees to collaborate to improve one another’s ideas. You will be surprised at the positive outcome, I guarantee it!


Joakim Wahlberg

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