The pace of technology is often what sets the pace of overall innovation progress. Design thinking and innovation thought leaders have called innovation the sweet spot between desirability, feasibility, and viability.
A lot of innovation programs have naturally grown out of research and development groups, but most true innovation is a departure from what’s come before so what role does the “research” in “research and development” play in innovation?
If you’re in charge of innovation, it means that you’re constantly being surprised. Not just because technology and trends are emerging that are impacting your business in new and unexpected ways, but almost every project that you’re working on continues to evolve and improve over time.
One of the most popular resources that IdeaScale has ever created was our white paper about how crowdsourcing was going to impact the financial sector. I think the reason why that white paper was so popular was because crowdsourcing was just one of many emerging trends that were beginning to shake up the financial sector. Other financial trends included the emergence of blockchain, sophisticated hacker schemes, and much (MUCH) more.
In-house innovation programs continue to proliferate and our concept of the innovator has evolved alongside them. Now we no longer think of a creative genius sitting alone in their tower coming up with creative ideas. Now, innovators can play a number of different roles within an innovation program beyond idea author. A lot of interest and attention is being paid to this concept, because organizations that are looking to sponsor and train innovation skills at their organization need to understand what skills matter most when it comes to creating meaningful change. After all, it’s an important part of professional development nowadays. Every employee at any organization needs to be able to keep up with the rapid pace of change. So here are a few of the roles that innovators play at large organizations.
Everyone wants to think that their innovation program is going to change the world and that feeling persists, because successful innovation programs can have enormous real-world returns. Businesses can save millions of dollars, new business models can disrupt markets, but some of the most impactful innovation efforts are genuinely in the healthcare space. Not only does healthcare innovation overall save the system money (for every dollar spent on innovative medicines, total healthcare spending is reduced by $7.20) but it also has the power to truly save lives as evidenced by research that states “between 1980 and 2010, medical advancements helped add 5 years to U.S. life expectancy.”
Last month, leaders in public sector innovation gathered to discuss ways of crowdsourcing new solutions to longstanding problems at IdeaScale’s Open Nation DC. Speakers from a range of agencies as diverse as the FDA and the US Coast Guard presented best practices on creating actionable change in government.
IdeaScale’s second largest customer segment is in the field of education (our largest segment is our work in government innovation) and it’s been growing steadily over the past four years. One of the reasons that we think there’s a renewed focus on innovation in education, is because numerous emerging trends impact education at every level: from remote learning to the maker movement and the gig economy.
If you’re working with an innovation management platform, then you know the importance of building a community. The success of these programs is intrinsically linked to the spirit and engagement of your community: how much they participate, how they’re participating, why they’re participating.
Innovation isn’t a one-time project. It’s a continuous activity. Which is why we are seeing numerous organizations adding an innovation department to their company infrastructure. In fact, in a recent survey of our client base, we were surprised to learn that almost 40% of our customers operate out of a dedicated innovation group.
Lots of industries care about intellectual property and proprietary information, but perhaps none more so than the automotive industry where product development is seen as the competitive edge.
When the Commission for Environmental Cooperation launched a challenge to the youth of North America, they received hundreds of unique, green business proposals. The young entrepreneurs competed for seed funding and came up with some truly disruptive ideas.
When I say “innovator,” what image comes to mind? A brilliant, but misunderstood figure hunched over a drawing board by the light of a single lamp in the middle of the night – cup of coffee dwindling slowly, pages of crumpled notes on the floor?
In November, the United States Coast Guard presented at Open Nation on their Coast Guard ideas program. They talked about how lessons learned from previous extreme weather occurrences (Sandy, etc.) still hadn’t become institutional knowledge by the 2017 hurricane season when they were so desperately needed. The reason that this hadn’t happened was that all of the methods for collecting new ideas were slow and opaque.