Breakthrough innovation virtually always builds upon other existing ideas or innovations. Your organization is full of ideas that simply haven’t materialized yet. Changing the way you look at and think about innovation can help unlock their potential.
Establishing the conditions that encourage innovation is the best way for your company to consciously develop an environment that consistently lets you produce offerings with new and novel value – innovations in the eyes of your users. The most innovative companies do this instinctively – perhaps because of the culture instilled by superstar leaders, a conscious and successful effort, or the emergence of the right conditions after things just fell into place.
But the fact is that every company can develop this innate innovation capability – something I call an Innovation Biome. Companies are inherently innovative, and their employees often have great ideas that can become market winners. The problem is that companies do not have an environment to support, nurture and germinate the great ideas as they believe that the great ideas are “out there” somewhere. It is critical that your organization focus on innovation from within by recognizing the innovation in front of you.
One of the core assumptions about innovation that every leader needs to understand is that ideas always build on other ideas. Breakthrough innovation is never something that comes out of the blue. Nothing is independent. Progress breeds progress. Improvements lead to other improvements. Just like the Internet – everything is connected. Creativity and innovation are about improving on what is out there and connecting dots in an original way to create new value.
Innovations are rarely, if ever, unique breakthroughs with no history. They come from interconnected, networked ideas. They come from expanding on the lessons of the past. The one common truth across all innovations throughout history is that if an innovation had not happened as we know it, it would still have happened, only with a different set of players and circumstances. We would still have antibiotics if Alexander Fleming had not observed that mold kills bacteria, and we would still be flying had the Wright brothers not pioneered flight, and we would still have mass produced automobiles and light bulbs had Henry Ford or Thomas Edison not made the contributions they did.