Innovation is a key driver of business growth, but yet many businesses struggle with the concept of innovation. This is because there is so much buzz around innovation that many businesses believe innovation is out of their ability. This could not be further from the truth. Here is a lesson to help you understand how YOU TOO CAN INNOVATE . . .
I remember (with fondness) the days of listening to music during my teen years on cassette tapes whether on my Sony Walkman or via my impressively sounding (yet also incredibly large) stereo system. Things would be going great, that was until everything unexpectedly slowed down. You can picture it now, opening up the tape deck, with one’s face all screwed, hoping what had just happened, hadn’t. But it had, and there you would be, hunting for a pencil while trying not to get mucky prints all over the magnetic plastic film, as you skillfully sought to save the music. Things, however, would never be the same again. I look back now and think, how archaic! Don’t get me wrong, the music was great (and still is), but the process of consuming it was fraught with difficulties. That was, until Steve Jobs showed up and turned the music industry on its head.
But, is Apple innovative? The iPod was not the first portable music device (Sony popularized the “music anywhere, anytime” concept 22 years earlier with the Walkman); the iPod was not the first device that put hundreds of songs in your pocket (dozens of manufacturers had MP3 devices on the market when the iPod was released in 2001); and Apple was actually late to the party when it came to providing an online music-sharing platform (do you remember Napster, Grokster and Kazaa, all of which preceded iTunes!?). What made the iPod and the music ecosystem it engendered innovative was not that it was the first portable music device. It was not that it was the first MP3 player, or that it was the first company to make thousands of songs immediately available to millions of users. What made Apple innovative was that it combined all of these elements — design, ergonomics and ease of use — in a single device, and then tied it directly into a platform that effortlessly kept that device updated with music. Apple invented nothing. Its innovation was creating an easy-to-use ecosystem that unified music discovery, delivery and device. And, in the process, they revolutionized the music industry.
Why am I telling this story? Often we can think of innovation as a new one-off technological product. If this were the sole source of innovative potential in our organizations however, this would be out of reach of the majority. There are actually many ways we can each innovate; that is, if we choose to use a more expansion definition of innovation. At Awesome Sauce Business Services, innovation is defined as something that creates new value and/or captures new value in new ways. Value here is in the eyes of the customer/consumer and what they want to purchase, and are willing to pay. Innovation can include the way we price, how we combine and customize our offers, our approach to delivery, the partnerships we create and gain a presence through, and even the markets and customers we choose to serve.
So if you are a business leader, to innovate, all you need to do is define innovation in your own work context, and recognize that innovations can emerge from many different people and places and solve problems that we may yet have considered. The music will live on, but in a different format!
If you need help setting up and working through the innovation process, please reach out to our team at Awesome Sauce Business Services. We can get the music playing!