Diversity importance in innovation

19 Mar

In the past few weeks, through a combination of personal and professional experiences,  I have been reminded of one of the most important aspects of innovation – the need for diversity in an innovation program. Let me explain:

Whilst you should strive to make innovation a repeatable, sustainable process, that doesn’t mean it should be executed like an automaton. Khan and Al-Ansari (2005) point out that many innovation strategies ultimately fail because they don’t understand that they simply can’t rely on a single reliable process to last the organisation forever. There are 3 main reasons for this are:

1)   Innovation is about solving problems – identifying, defining, and solving problems that will drive new growth opportunities for your organisation.  Problems are mostly unique and offer individual challenges that need to be understood and overcome – and whilst most can frequently be tackled in more than one way, to rely on one single methodology to tackle all of them is not ideal.

2)   Innovation is a highly human intensive process, relying on creative and constructive contributions from a wide variety of sources – employees, managers, customers, and others. With that in mind, we are subject to the subtle whims of the human creative and motivational processes.  In other words – people get bored Schweizer (2006).

People can just get creatively exhausted. Keep asking the same subset of people a continuous stretch of questions and you may notice participation slowly, and sometimes dramatically, fall off. No matter how important the topic, people reach the limits of their creative thought endurance.

3)   Modern day Innovation is also no longer the domain of a few “elite”, but rather an expectation of many. Modern organizations are now expected to run an innovation program that is no longer confined to one part of your company like R&D, but reaches out across all aspects of its business in search of the next big thing that will enable the company to obtain strategic competitive advantage in the market.  And that reach may not necessarily stop at the traditional corporate walls, but extend to a global audience with the understanding that the best solution to your problems will frequently lie outside of those walls.

What that means is that organizations are now talking. They are talking to a variety of people – some internal, some external, some trusted, some unknown – each of which should be handled in a different manner in order to obtain ideal collaborative input from them. Organisations are using blogs forums and social media networks to reach out to people, to advertise their products and people.

It’s an interesting paradox though how many in the innovation industry, an area that endeavors to bring a state of constant (but controlled) change into organizations, don’t consider the necessity for that same state in some of their very own innovation programs.

Khan, M. & Al-Ansari, M. (2005). Sustainable innovation as a corporate strategy, The Triz Journal, http://www.triz-journal.com/archives/2005/01/02.pdf

Schweizer, T.S. (2006). The Psychology of Novelty-Seeking, Creativity and Innovation: Neurocognitive Aspects Within a Work-Psychological Perspective, Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 15 (2), p.p. 164-172.

Ivan in Melbourne March 2010

The Orakul

Monash University

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3 Responses to “Diversity importance in innovation”

  1. Debt Settlement April 23, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.

    • ivansilva April 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

      Hi, thanks for the comments. for more information about the orakul visit our website http://www.theorakul.com and there are all of our contact details.

      Cheers….Ivan

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