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Stephen Shapiro, in his excellent book, 24/7 Innovation, offers a valuable outline of the characteristics of pervasive innovation, and what makes it different than earlier change movements (such as process reengineering, total quality management and just-in-time inventory management).

Stephen Shapiro, in his excellent book, 24/7 Innovation, offers a valuable outline of the characteristics of pervasive innovation, and what makes it different than earlier change movements (such as process reengineering, total quality management and just-in-time inventory management):

It is strategic. Innovation is targeted at the critical parts of the business that differentiate it from its competitors.

It is pervasive. The idea of innovation has to permeate every aspect of an organization, from its structure to its management. The quest for better ways of doing things has to become part of the corporate psyche.

It is holistic, acknowledging the “oneness” of things — the interdependence of all aspects of the business.

It is focused on creating value. We’re not talking about cost-cutting and streamlining without regard to the impact they have on customers and other stakeholders. We are talking about focusing on delivering value to stakeholders in general, and to customers in particular.

It emphasizes governance. I do not mean supervision or management. I’m referring to the leadership of the business that sets the standard for other companies to follow.

It uses technology as an enabler, rather than an answer. In the past, companies often chose their technological solutions and then found ways of designing the business around them. Although technology can and should inspire new business models, in innovative organizations, technology is the tool of business requirements, not the other way around.

It recognizes the critical role of people.  Innovation is carried out by people, for people. People are clearly the vital link at every level of the business.”

Stephen’s book goes into a lot of detail on customer-focused innovation, and why it’s important.  I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is striving to differentiate their organization from its competitors and trying to understand the needs of its customers!

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