Why innovate ?

Innovation is a hot topic.  It is also changing.

Google’s natty Ngram charts the use of a phrase over time  in books.  Use of the word innovation in books increased steadily over the 20th Century.


Source: “Innovation” used in books of the 20th Century. Google Ngram

Note that the scale is % of publication containing the word “innovation”.

[  you can play with this natty tool here:  TinyURL.com/innovationC20  ]

This period has been impacted more than one revolution in our industrial world and many periods of dramatic social and technology change, including two world wars. Each change has been fuelled by either extra-ordinary need or new opportunities often born out of technology and invention.

So why should you and your organisation join the trend and approach strategy, technology and design with a new approach ?

Three reasons to adopt an innovation led approach to growth, business development and improvement:

  • Innovate to increase turn-over
  • Innovate to improve competitiveness
  • Innovate to keep up with innovation

 Innovate to increase turn-over

Nesta is an UK innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life.  Their Innovation Index shows that innovators – measured by the percentage of sales from new products – saw 10% growth in Turnover compared to 5.8% for non-innovators.  While companies that introduced a new product between 2002 to 2004 saw average employment growth of 4.4% during the subsequent 3 years compared to 2% for non-innovative businesses.

Innovate to improve competitiveness

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is a unique forum of  the governments of 30 democracies with a mission to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

“Undoubtedly the capability to innovate and to bring innovation successfully to market will be a crucial determinant of the global competitiveness of nations over the coming decade”

-OECD, Innovation and growth: Rationale for an innovation strategy, 2007

They persisted after the economic crash of 2007-8 citing this as a opportunity for more sustainable growth. In 2012 the OCED published their Innovation strategy, stating:

Innovation can help accelerate the recovery and put countries back on a path to sustainable –and greener – growth. … it holds the key, both in advanced and emerging economies, to employment generation and enhanced productivity growth through knowledge creation and its subsequent application and diffusion.

-OECD, Ministerial report on the OECD Innovation Strategy, 2012

Innovate to keep up with innovation

For much of the last century, new technology and new means of production were primary sources of innovation – in that developments in these areas led to radical new products in what is often called “technology push”. This market environment has changed substantially in the last 20-40 years.

Now, for relatively modest investment any firm, indeed anyone, can access relatively vast resources of computing power and data, while manufacturing technology advancement and access to low cost regions has turned many complex products into low cost commodities. So, the means of product and access to unimaginable wealth of knowledge is available to every innovator, every other innovator and their competitors. Experience now says that an innovator is unlikely to make easy progress by presenting a product or service where the functions or activities are technology led.

“When people talked about innovation in the ’90s, they really meant technology. When people talk about innovation in this decade, they really mean design.”

-Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek,

– named one of the 40 most powerful people in design by I.D. Magazine.

The demands on innovation has progressed, as Bruce Nussbaum identifies, towards a more holistic design process.

The teaminnovation approach to business suggests that only an innovation focused approach to strategy, growth, cost reduction and organisation development encourages the right balance between creativity, practicality and risk.

teaminnovation explores successful innovation techniques that recognise this landscape and provides a step by step approach to make a complex innovation journey more manageable.

If the need for innovation is so compelling, why isn’t everyone cashing in successfully?

It’s partly because innovation is difficult to do.   Explore:  Why is innovation hard ?


Sources, references, further reading:

  1. “Summary of keynote speech to the French embassy”, 28 January 2010, Jonathan Kestenbaum, Chief Executive NESTA. Accessed 21 August 2014


  1. “Innovation and growth: Rationale for an innovation strategy” 2007, OECD. Accessed 21 August 2014


  1. “Ministerial report on the OECD Innovation Strategy”, 2012, OECD. Accessed 21 August 2014.


  1. “Getting Schooled in Innovation”, January 02, 2005. Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek. Accessed 13 August 2014.



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