Read this section on the importance of innovation to the design process. Often, we think of innovation as what happens when a creative person has a stroke of genius. In reality, innovation is a process that any individual within any type of organization can engage in as a normal part of the daily work. It’s all about making something better, whether that’s an actual product or a process used in the organization.
Innovation is the creation of better, more effective products, processes, services, or technologies.
Subdivide the innovation process in to sources, goals, failures, and diffusion
In business and economics, innovation is the catalyst to growth. With rapid advancements in transportation and communications over the past few decades, the old-world concepts of factor endowments and comparative advantage, which focused on an area’s unique inputs, are outmoded for today’s global economy.
In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitiveness, market share, and others. All organizations can innovate, including hospitals, universities, and local governments.
The famous robotics engineer Joseph F. Engelberger asserts that innovations require only three things: (1) A recognized need; (2) competent people with relevant technology; (3) financial support.
The Kline Chain-linked model of innovation places emphasis on potential market needs as drivers of the innovation process, and describes the complex and often iterative feedback loops between marketing, design, manufacturing, and research and development (R&D). Innovation by businesses is achieved in many ways, with much attention now given to formal research and development for “breakthrough innovations. ” R&D helps spur on patents and other scientific innovations that lead to productive growth in such areas as industry, medicine, engineering, and government. Yet, innovations can be developed by less formal on-the-job modifications of practice, through exchange and combination of professional experience and by many other routes. The more radical and revolutionary innovations tend to emerge from R&D, while more incremental innovations may emerge from practice—but there are many exceptions to each of these trends. An important innovation factor includes customers buying products or using services. As a result, firms may incorporate users in focus groups (user-centered approach), work closely with so-called lead users (lead user approach) or users might adapt their products themselves.
Programs of organizational innovation are typically tightly linked to organizational goals and objectives, to the business plan, and to market competitive positioning. One driver for innovation programs in corporations is to achieve growth objectives. A survey across a large number of manufacturing and services organizations found that systematic programs of organizational innovation are most frequently driven by (ranked in decreasing order of popularity): Improved quality, creation of new markets, extension of the product, range, reduced labor costs, improved production processes, reduced materials, reduced environmental damage, replacement of products/services, reduced energy consumption, and conformance to regulations. These goals vary between improvements to products, processes and services and dispel a popular myth that innovation deals mainly with new product development. Most of the goals could apply to any organization, be it a manufacturing facility, marketing firm, hospital or local government. Whether innovation goals are successfully achieved depends greatly on the environment prevailing in the firm. Conversely, failure can develop in programs of innovations. The causes of failure have been widely researched and can vary considerably. Some causes will be external to the organization and outside its influence of control while others will be internal and ultimately within the control of the organization. Internal causes of failure can be divided into causes associated with the cultural infrastructure and causes associated with the innovation process itself. Common causes of failure within the innovation process in most organizations can be distilled into five types: (1) Poor goal definition; (2) poor alignment of actions to goals; (3) poor participation in teams; (4) poor monitoring of results; (5) poor communication and access to information.
Once innovation occurs, innovations may be spread from the innovator to other individuals and groups. This process has been proposed that the life cycle of innovations can be described using the “S-curve’ or diffusion curve. The S-curve maps growth of revenue or productivity against time. In the early stage of a particular innovation, growth is relatively slow as the new product establishes itself. At some point customers begin to demand and the product growth increases more rapidly. New incremental innovations or changes to the product allow growth to continue. Toward the end of its life cycle growth slows and may even begin to decline. In the later stages, no amount of new investment in that product will yield a normal rate of return.
Innovative companies will typically be working on new innovations that will eventually replace older ones. Successive S-curves will come along to replace older ones and continue to drive growth upwards. The S-curve derives from an assumption that new products are likely to have “product life” (i.e. a start-up phase, a rapid increase in revenue and eventual decline). In fact the great majority of innovations never get off the bottom of the curve, and never produce normal returns.
Technological Innovation Chart: In the figure above the first curve shows a current technology. The second shows an emerging technology that currently yields lower growth but will eventually overtake current technology and lead to even greater levels of growth.
Source: Lumen Learning, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-business/chapter/new-product-development/
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