Undoubtedly patents represent, today, a major criterion in making investment decisions and in firms' competitive advantage. Yet, the way we deal with designing patentable inventions does not reflect their strategic potential. Patents are strategic assets in theory but mainly secondary activity in practice. What if they were not an outcome but an input to craft your company's' future?
There was an idea that caught popular attention a few years ago: basic, affordable products from emerging markets for use in their home countries could eventually move up and disrupt global markets. But the record has been mixed. What does it take for successful innovation?
In the global geography of innovation, India is straddling two continents. Its engineers have contributed to the success of the Silicon Valley: the father of the USB socket, the inventor of the Intel Pentium chip, the general manager of Microsoft are Indian, as is part of the senior management at Google. The success of this Diaspora reflects the talents of Indian engineers, but it can also be linked with an original innovation culture, which expresses itself in an amazing ability to reverse concepts. Three meta-innovations illustrate this Indian way.
Legal and regulatory aspects are rarely mentioned when discussing innovation management. But they do play a major role, and the analysis of the legal environment is a crucial issue. It allows smart organizations to implement original strategies… even though there are a number of pitfalls.
What are the triggers of an innovation project? Though there is extensive literature on innovation management, what exactly drives innovation remains unclear. And yet, it is a fundamental issue, considering that the future of the firm is at stake. Who should imagine this future and take the responsibility of initiating projects? R&D, marketing, prospective teams? There is no single answer. But a full range of business cases illustrate all three models.
During the 20th century Governments and public agencies such as NASA played a major role in the innovation chain. The Internet itself was born through public programs, just as GPS and many other game-changing technologies. But in recent years, questions arose over the efficiency of public efforts, challenged by smart, dynamic, powerful corporations such as Google, on the one hand, or bottom-up and open source models, on the other hand. Are Governments out of the game?
Yes, it is possible to rationalize the innovation effort, moving on from managing equilibrium to handling a constant imbalance. No, this is no easy matter. It requires that we revise - and fairly extensively - our natural reflexes and current tools, without slipping into fashionable fads. The good news is that research in management has now identified the principles needed to manage innovation. Here are eight of these principles.
With the proliferation of technologies and the growing complexity of products and services, it no longer seems possible for any company, as large as it may be, to innovate alone. How to identify the right partners and develop a partnership over time? How to ensure successful exchanges? Technology scouting strives to bring answers to these issues. If developed correctly, it paves the way to technological intelligence. However, effective scouting implies many changes in the organization of the company regarding innovation.
The venture investor and former Facebook executive examines technologies he thinks will improve the quality of life and economic output, and explains why most executives undervalue technical proficiency.
Turning digital, the innovative company becomes collaborative, at both strategic and operational levels. The innovation policy moves from exclusion to collaboration, marketing from transactional to collaborative, IT governance from monolithic to differentiated… To drive change in strategy, organization and information systems, managers often use best practices ground on observation, measurement and analysis. But to address the behavior of the company, its postures and image, specific skills are needed to design meaning and emotion.
Try as you may, innovation can never be reduced to a mere good idea. Innovation is a process, which is played chiefly in the way those who are to implement it can successfully make novelty theirs. Quite often management tends to overlook this process of appropriation, or to consider it only in terms of hindrances and obstacles. How, on the contrary, can the internal resources of organizations be enhanced and mobilized? The answer is straightforward: by developing a culture of cooperation, which allows for some degree of transgression… and also makes way for emotion.
In recent years, many firms have sped up their innovation processes. But can we protect the meaning and relevance of innovation while accelerating and increasing its impact? This is exactly the issue challenged by component innovation.
The most ancient living beings appeared 3.8 billion years ago: in terms of sustainability, Nature is far ahead from human societies… Each species owes its survival to a natural process of adaptation, a series of trials and errors that led to an expertise and creative genius which are available, for us to use as an inexhaustible source of inspiration: that's the starting point of biomimicry. What could seem at first like an extravagant whim is in fact at the heart of high-end technologies such as aeronautics or medicine.
Innovation is the result of constant information exchanges between technology, the markets, an innovation team, as well as other departments of the firm. How can we speed up these exchanges within big companies? Nicolas Bry (Orange – Innovation Marketing Group) suggests creating small dedicated structures led by innovation professionals with specific management methods. Then the question becomes: how to insert their work into group strategies?
Whether in business schools, firms or in the specialized press, innovation is a highly praised value. What if it were a myth? The road to success could also lie in the art of imitation. The examples stand before us: Apple, EasyJet, and Wal-Mart are well-known innovative companies. And yet, their success was largely built on their ability to combine both innovation and imitation.
The free software movement when viewed from afar remains poorly understood but on closer inspection reveals a web of surprises. Who knows that around half of all "volunteers" are actually being paid for their contributions? The frontier between commercial and non-commercial activity has become somewhat blurred and the idealized vision of a utopian community actually hides an extremely wide range of actors and entities.
In 2011 the U.S. Senate passed a bill reforming the patent system, without appeasing controversies that for the past ten years have been agitating academic circles as well as the Silicon Valley. Patents are generally considered to fuel innovation. But do they?
In an economic climate of constant transformation at ever increasing speed, the classical model of innovation, incremental by design, no longer ensures survival against the menace of obsolescence. As new competitors arrive on the market and constantly raise the stakes in terms of quality the continued existence of an enterprise rests on its ability to create ruptures with the past and move forward in a constant state of revolutionary innovation.
Efforts to forecast our future fall short of a perfect dream where events can be weighed and measured with the predictability more commonly found in cookbooks the world over. If predictions could be made with the same degree of certainty that a baker employs then where would we find the creative drive to innovate ? In an increasingly uncertain world is it even possible for random acts of genius ? Can we embrace chaos and harness its power ? The paradox is that to plan for the future we must discard the limits of our present. When we accept this seeming contradiction the need for a stable hand is clear if we are to successfully identify the sea that acts as the ultimate source of attraction.
Prototyping has always been an integral step in design and engineering, but practitioners are now expanding its use to various new applications and devising new methodologies to unleash the true power of prototyping. This is part one of the series on design thinking by the members of d.thinking Ponts ParisTech.