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Innovation Notes

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Pip Reeve

TT 10 W7 'Why is successful innovation so difficult to achieve?

Innovation is seen as a very important process contributing to economic growth, to the extent that Legge suggests that 'innovation is the most precious currency in the new economy.' 1 In this essay I will begin by discussing some of the difficulties associated with actually coming up with a successful innovation idea. Then I will discuss some of the major problems with implementing this idea to create a successful innovation. In many cases, one of the major barriers to having a new idea which can lead to a successful innovation is the organisational structure and culture. Much of the research suggests that creating a successful innovation is much more about the organisation than the individual innovator, 'it has everything to do with organisation and attitude and very little to do with nurturing solitary genius.' 2 Sutton suggests that 'companies need to re-energise their organisations to pursue innovation effectively.'3 Much of this re-energising of organisations requires managers to break old habits, as 'teams can get trapped in the past.' 4 For example, this can be achieved through the 'hunting down and eliminating sacred cows,'5 where sacred cows are ineffective ways of thinking and acting that have outlived their usefulness. It has even been suggested that 'companies that want innovation need to tolerate contrarians, heretics and eccentrics, even though many of their ideas lead to failure.' 6 This is because these are the sorts of people who are more likely to think differently and creatively, having ideas which are unlike anything else in the organisation at the time. So, in order to develop new ideas innovation should become an integral part of the organisational culture, 'the best of these innovators have systemised the generation and testing of new ideas.' 7 There are various ways of developing 'an internal entrepreneurial spirit, philosophy and structure that will produce a higher than average number of innovations.'8 For example, 'venture teams are a recent technique used to give free reign to creativity within organisations.' 9 This is where a separate organisational unit is created in order to spearhead the creation and implementation of new innovations. Another way to create a culture of innovation is to create incentives, 'innovation can be bolstered anywhere if people are given opportunities and rewards for taking good ideas - as long as no laws are broken - from all sources inside or outside the company.' 10 Sutton suggests the idea of getting people to think up the 'dumbest' idea they possibly can in order to try and encourage innovation. This has two main benefits, firstly, 'thinking up dumb things to do helps bring to the surface what people believe but have a hard time articulating.' 11 And secondly, it 'forces people to expose and challenge assumptions that might be getting in the way of developing great ideas.' 12 Furthermore, innovation can be difficult to achieve as it must be relevant to the customers, fulfilling their needs. Daft suggests that successful companies 'had a much better understanding of customer needs and paid much more attention to marketing.' 13 Also, coming up with new ideas is made more difficult by the fact that ideas can be forgotten when people leave and join the organisation and, of course, 'ideas can't be used if they are forgotten.'14 This is perhaps because 'it's harder to keep ideas alive when they're not 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

'Evaluating planned organisational change' Legge 'Building an innovation factory' Hargadon & Sutton 2000 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Evaluating planned organisational change' Legge 'Essentials of organisation theory and design' Daft 1998 'Essentials of organisation theory and design' Daft 1998 'Building an innovation factory' Hargadon & Sutton 2000 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Weird ideas that spark innovation' Sutton 2002 'Essentials of organisation theory and design' Daft 1998 'Building an innovation factory' Hargadon & Sutton 2000

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