Learning to innovate

3 min reading
Learning to innovate


Today everyone agrees that innovation is key to the survival of any business, whether it is an entrepreneurial startup, an SME or a large company. It is so important that there are currently millions of companies that claim to be innovative. But… are they really innovative? Innovation is not just based on creating inventions. It’s a continuous process of generating new ideas that try to address trends and market demands through the improvement of products and services that already exist.

There are as many types of innovation as ideas you are able to generate, but it’s also true that everything takes practice. However, there are some basic principles that can guide you along the way in order to create truly innovative ideas and that we are going to share with you in this article.

Basic principles

First of all, you have to keep in mind that innovation should not occupy the entire focus of your business strategy, although it must be strategic. This means that innovation doesn’t have to be the goal of your company, but a way to achieve your business objectives.

Business Insider describes innovation as a systematic process. According to this magazine, there are eight core principles for the creation of innovative ideas:

  1. Listen: pay attention to the outside world and listen to the customers, to the market in general and to the experts around you, both inside and outside your business. Many times good ideas surround us, but we just don’t realize that they are in front of our eyes.

  2. Understand: as we have mentioned on other occasions, it is very important to know who are your actual and potential customers, their tastes and needs, in order to be able to offer them an innovative product or service.

  3. Organize: you have to create and organize an innovation team with those individuals who may be involved in the process, and organize the resources and investments needed to address the challenge.

  4. Create: the innovation process should be carried out in a suitable environment, giving the team the opportunity to fail, to develop many alternative solutions and give freedom to the creative process.

  5. Experiment: innovation processes are based on having ideas but also on testing their effectiveness. For this reason, it is interesting to carry out many experiments in parallel, using prototypes and other alternative techniques.

  6. Listen again: listen again to the customers, using prototypes to get their feedback about the degree of acceptance, failures, successes, etc.

  7. Design: design the concepts to address customer-centric values, such as cost, use, ease of change and room for improvement.

  8. Implement: implement the final product or service.

Innovating in troubled times

Unfortunately, today's businesses must innovate in record time if they want to keep up-to-date, driven by the technological advances taking place and the constant demand of customers. Therefore, businesses have to live in a non-stop process of invention, reinvention and discovery of new ideas. In this sense, one of the most important points when undertaking an innovation strategy (besides the principles mentioned above) is to constantly think about how to create, deliver and capture value.

It is therefore very important to re-evaluate how to do things. You may do so asking, for example, the following questions: How can we add new value to our products or services? Can we provide that value differently? (We would like to make a side comment here to recommend an article that includes some questions that can actually help you explore innovative ideas, and that you may find very useful.)

On the other hand, you should take into account that innovation usually involves some business risks. Thus, at present, instead of thinking about the next great product or service of the year, many companies try to develop new ideas that allow them to innovate little by little through the improvement of products and services that are already in the market.

A good example is what software companies do, adding frequent updates to their products. This is something that doesn’t require large investments and allows adapting products to the needs of the consumers. Also, launching more frequent and smaller versions of a product, companies can mitigate the risk, as it is easier to identify and fix potential problems. In addition, these updates represent a strategic advantage in the maintenance of the quality of the service or product.

Clearly, any business, new or already in the market, must adapt and innovate to survive and grow. And part of this adaptation process involves operating in a constant state of change and innovation

It may interest you