organisational structure

5 fundamentals of innovation everyone ought to know

Innovating effectively, efficiently and inclusively doesn't happen by accident. Want to know what those companies that get it right are doing?

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."

Albert Einstein

Thirty years ago, most of the products in todays’ world would be less than desired. Change is ongoing. In order for businesses to remain relevant, they need to be agile and adapt to change but even more desirable, is the need and ability to be the change. Transform the world through innovation.

Innovation is a dynamic process. It involves the creation, development, and implementation of a new idea – a product, service, or process, aimed at improving efficiency, effectiveness, or competitive advantage. ( Dr Ken Hudson) More specifically, creativity refers to generating potentially new valuable ideas, and innovation is about transforming these ideas into a commercial reality. Successful innovation depends on continuous testing, measuring, learning and sharing. Everything that exists began as creative thought.

Innovation leads to change. It is about exceeding expectation and limitations. Innovation drives humanity forwards.

Innovation is not agility.

Agility is about how well and quickly you can adapt to change. It is positive retroaction. According to Karine Sebatier, the goal of being agile is to turn change into an opportunity. Innovation in contrast, is about being proactive.

Agility is about adapting to the disruptions that other create, while innovation is about disrupting the status quo. It’s about creating the unprecedented future rather than reacting to a future already created by others. The mindset is totally different. While both are essential for business survival, innovation is what will drive long term rewards.

Innovation is also not invention. The essential difference is that inventions are mere prototypes. They have not been implemented or put into use. That is the key.

Innovation is a strategic process that requires a dynamic and continuous eco system to thrive. Successful innovation, from ideation to implementation, is an iterative non-linear, non-sequential journey accompanied by continuous learning.

Why is innovation important for your business?

Creative destruction

New ideas or processes disrupt the status quo as they bring to the fore new products and services, even new industries. Existing products and models become obsolete as new needs are forged and transformation occurs. The initial disruption and imbalance caused by creative innovation is a crucial driver of growth. Innovation drives humanity forwards.

Companies need strategic vision in order to survive episodes of creative destruction. Such episodes are actually opportunities to evolve. Thus the future of business must concern itself with sustainability strategies, the right tools, and making radical changes in order to ensure future thriving.

Competitive advantage.

In a world saturated with product and service offerings, ever changing due to tech advancements, it is essential to remain relevant. In order to hold a competitive advantage,  in changing markets driven by changing needs, it is essential to be able to identify new opportunities.

Maximize ROI

Increased competitive advantage and ongoing innovation results in new product developments, better offerings and processes and ultimately leads to greater profitability.

Increased productivity.

Developing and implementing better ways of doing things results in increased efficiency and decreased costs.

Positive impact on company culture.

When continuous learning and innovation are valued, companies are able to attract innovation talent, make use of best skills and competencies. In turn, employees feel motivated.

Elements of Innovation

Corporate Culture

Establish an environment that cultivates a growth mindset and encourages pro-innovation behavior. Set a high value on critical thinking, initiative taking, agility and innovation. This means that you cannot be totally risk averse, as doing something new always linked to uncertainty.

Human Capital

There is a direct link between your company’s values and the values of your employees.  We all want to work in an environment that shares our beliefs and attitudes. This ensures greater satisfaction, motivation, success and above all, joy!

Building a company culture that encourages and enables your employees to generate new ideas and growth means you will attract talent that is innovative, empowered and accountable. There is some argument in support of having a separate innovation team of employees who instead of being concerned with the daily operations of your company, specialize in moulding the future through the use of skills, insights and resources.

Regardless as to whether or not you have a separate innovations team, you need to have the right structures and processes in pace as well as capabilities and tools to facilitate radical change and remain relevant. You also need to ensure collaboration between core and new business teams. In this way you will be able to build new business while sustaining your existing business.


A too hierarchical structure can stand in the way of creativity. It is important to have a supportive innovation framework that enables effective use of capabilities such as skills, tools, collective and individual insights, financial resources,  and intellectual property.

Your organization’s structure should allow for agility of teams to move between ideas and encourage collaboration. This is facilitated through setting up optimal channels of communication and the availability of the right tools.


Todays’ world is digital and fast-paced. Technology drives rapid growth and transformation. Leaders need to adopt relevant tools to ensure that they do not get left behind. These tools should align with your company’s vision and goals and offer solutions to achieving these. The purpose of incorporating tech tools into your repertoire of available resources is to facilitate ideation, collaboration, innovation and transformation.

Strategy and Vision

The role of leadership here is to guide innovation in the right direction. Your strategy needs to be aimed at achieving long term success. Of notable importance here is making choices. Making a deliberate choice to implement an option with a perceived high level of success. This is all achieved through vision and focus on desired goals and outcomes. Your company vision needs to be communicated through your corporate culture. This will impact on your ability to attract the right talent to meet your objectives.


Most people are risk averse and want proven solutions that feel safe.

However, risk and innovation are 2 sides of the same coin. Innovation is about generating change. Change is always about uncertain outcomes and is therefore linked to risk.  Being totally risk averse means you run an even greater risk of not leading the future and driving the change.


A good innovation narrative drives business success. It begins with your company culture and it’s values and beliefs. It focuses on your people and their potential. It reflects your goal and vision. Company leads need to effectively communicate visions and goals as well as company values in order to ensure your employees are aligned and understand that innovation is valued.

Finally, your innovation narrative builds trust-based relationships. Every innovation needs a story. More often than not, it is the story that makes the innovation. To be successful with innovation, you need to be able to genuinely convince others to buy your idea. You need to be able to tell your story in a way that captures the imagination of investors, business unit leaders, and your target audience.

The truth is, that often innovators pitch their communications at other innovators and early adopters. This is not where the bulk of your market lies. Most people are risk averse and will wait for something to be proven safe before giving it a try. The important part of your market therefore, lies within the early majority. A represented 34% of the market. These are the people who take caution with how they engage their resources and are often well networked with thought leaders and other consumers. Their adoption is often considered trustworthy and proven safe. As a result successful infiltration into this market will result in further growth.  How you communicate about your offering is key to attract this early majority.

While these elements are independent aspects, there needs to be a synergy among them in order to establish success of your innovation vision.

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