May 31, 2008

i have the idea, and what now? (1)

So, here's the first chapter of my what-will-be book "I have the idea, and what now?"
I have to note, that english is not my native language, so there are certainly some errors in text. ;)

what is innovation?

The term innovation can be heard in recent times from every direction. TV, newspapers, adds – everywhere we can see the word 'innovation' connected with wide range of products, from commercials for cosmetic products, to banking services. Politicians, professors, businessman or journalists – everyone have something to say about innovations. The term is used so much that there is the danger for it, to lose it's real meaning, and to make people take their look away from it.

Looking to origin, the word innovation is coming from latin in+novare with the meaning 'make something new'.

There are lots of definitions of innovation, I will start with the simplest one:

innovation is new idea the brings the profit.

In other words, that is the conversion of knowledge to money.

Innovations can also be defined with inventions which were converted to market products.

„Innovation distinguish leaders from followers.“

Steve Jobs

Innovation can be defined with only creating something new, but it we want complete definition, market factor must not be avoided.

We can define innovation also with something what isn't innovation: innovation isn't an invention. Many innovations don't use new technologies. In example, McDonalds hasn't spread their fast food concept with using latest technologies, but with managing restaurants in a new way.

It's not correct to think that innovation is something what people in „white suits“ are making in their laboratories.

Difference between innovation and invention can be defined in following way: Invention is first emergence of idea, but innovation is the first attempt to make it. Innovation then can be the usage of existing invention.

Innovation is not only the production of new products, but also the way of doing certain things and how to make it better.

In the case when invention improves some product, or service, or process, we can say that invention is transferred to innovation.

Innovation can be small or big, simple or complex. We can talk about innovation with disruptive idea, but also when just small changes are done on existing product, which must at least be measurable.

Biggest obstacles to innovations in the shape of some organizations are companies culture and management. Company must cultivate the culture that accepts new ideas from employees.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.”

Steve Jobs

The role of today's „knowledge economy“ is more important, so rich countries can't compete with low-cost products and services if they don't innovate faster and better.

Innovation is application of knowledge on the problem which occurs, and putting ideas to market. There is different situation with invention or discovery, where customer is not in inventors thoughts. Focus is clearly on invention. During innovation process, customer is the key factor, because innovation must have a market.

The way to submit idea becomes more easy and global as it will shown on the example of open innovations. This opening of innovative potentiality which is not reserved only to technological giants, opens new possibilities for solving current (and future) problems in the world.

IBM's research from 2006. based on answers from 765 interviews with leaders of organizations had the interesting answer on the question, which are the most significant origins of innovative ideas? Over 40% place employees as the most significant origin, only few percent less were business partners and customers.

This answer gives the significance to ideas which comes from employees, which are equally important, maybe even more important then ideas coming from customers.

At innovation, new product brings up new value to customer, with reducing of costs, gives improvement in relation with competitors, or contribute to end-customer satisfaction, or allows the increasing of sales with using new technologies or processes.

Finally, it most important, when customer says that it's an innovation.

Looking through the source of ideas, inventions comes from inventors effort and it can turn up in experiments, sometimes even with luck. On the other hand, innovation must come from introducing the idea on the place when it can be developed, and where it can attract enough attention for realization.

Joseph Schumpeter, well-know economist from 20th century described entrepreneurship as the from of „creative destruction“. He also had interesting though that innovation, at the end in not the creation of mind, but of will.

May 22, 2008

green projects in eastern europe

Green projects in Germany, England, Sweden? This looks promising. But what with eastern part of Europe, specially with smaller countries.
If some of the projects would be offered to mayor of big or medium size city in those country, what will be the answer? Maybe, they'll respond: our whole country doesn't produce as much CO2 emission as on city in western Europe. Or: we don't care about CO2 emission, it's not a problem in our region, let's talk about savings.
This saving are crucial in this situation, and it's known that with Green Innovations, energy savings can be achieved. So, it's shouldn't be the same in every country/city, but it must be started ;)

what is green IT?

In recent times everything that sits around the corner is 'green'. Concerning IT we could see many headlines about Green IT. The main point is that Green IT is not just the savings in Data Centers. The topic of Data Center savings is well covered and it's widely known that this 'works'.
But, what is with other aspects of using IT innovations to generate savings & reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption?
First, the public transportation is used enough in some countries (certainly in Croatia) - with innovations in that sector this could be changed, specially after the rise of oil prices in last months.
Second, the savings in the energy consumption can be achieved in government offices and other public sector buildings. Also private houses and flats can be managed smartly with watching on external temperature or other factors which could be the ground for new innovations or inventions.

May 13, 2008

big and small companies & innovation

As I work in the big company with it's own innovation process and climate I often think how this process and specially climate, can be established in small enterprises.
First, the contact person for innovations has to be known by everyone - Innovation Manager or simply one 'special' person who will know how to handle each proposal. If the firm is close to technology changes, this person must be sent to special patent(intellectual property) training.
Next thing is establishing of innovation metrics, which must be transparent so that employees will know what they can expect, if their idea will be accepted.
It is important to establish a process for talk about successful innovations in the company. This can be half an hour in the meeting, or a news in the company intranet site or wiki-pages. If the company is technology leader, news about recent technologies and newest inventions also has to be present.
In the small enterprise all mentioned topics, can be the job of only one person - so it's important to select the right person and to give him/her all the needed support.