Let’s scrap the word innovation

Let’s scrap the word innovation

What is innovation? Innovation is a buzz word that had been around for quite some time. Obviously everyone needs innovation and is pretty clear why. But what is innovation? I would describe it simply with following sentence: “Doing anything that ensures the long term profitability and growth of a business.” Sounds pretty simple really, but in reality it is not. Why? In today’s world nearly every large (and small) publicly listed company is focused on pleasing their share holders in short term. The profit is optimized for quarterly reporting. What happens? The long term sustainability goes many times down the toiled. When you ask the managers they often mean that they don’t have a choice. That is what the markets need. Let me ask you a question. Let’s assume you were investing your money. Yes, I mean your own private money to something. You would have two alternatives:

1. an investment with a promise to deliver great quarterly results but practically no guarantees for the future.

2. an investment with a promise to delivery reasonable profit over next 3-5 years.

Which one would you choose?

In order to deliver the promise of reasonable profit over 3 years the company needs substance beyond press conferences, promises and roadmaps. Yes they (press conferences, promises and roadmaps.) are important, but you can’t monetize them. You need attractive products and services to sell or an alternative business model (like google or facebook) to monetize your substance.

Many times the product or service development decisions are made by only a few people in the company. The decisions are highly subjective to the person’s own judgement. It is true that someone needs to take the development decision and it will always be so. The point is to bring product and service candidates with high potential and better quality to the decision table in the first place. This is called “innovation front end”. Innovation front end ensures that the products or services that are going to be developed have a higher probability of succeeding. They are a result of simple but efficient innovation front end process or actually way of working if you will. Bold promise right? Good new is that this is not only a promise but it also works in the “real life”.

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2 Comments so far:

  1. Great post Juhana! Actually I have been thinking the same – What drives people in their R&D decisions; for example, whether to “bet” for safe but moderate profit, or make it more risky but reaching potentially a jackpot. For example, would you bet your money on 20% possibility of 10x your money or 90% change of doubling the bet? You may be surprised: Check out my blog at

    Juha Lipponen

  2. avatar Juhana says:

    It boils down to the human nature I guess. Most of the people avoid risk. Sadly they do not realize that by doing that they avoid the chance to achieve something truly remarkable and highly profitable. The old saying “No risk – no fun” is also in this case very true.

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