What is the definition of innovation within your company?

Most companies agree on the definition: “activity taken to create new products or product improvements”. I would add to this definition that “the activity is in line with core business objectives, achieved by utilizing a process, allows for flexibility in approach and results in a positive financial outcome”.

The steps in the process, degree of flexibility, degree of alignment to objectives and amount of ROI to be considered significant are all variables that can be tailored to the organization and management’s desire for speed and outcome. And to be successful, Senior leadership will need to support the process from the top down and drive the key principles of how the particular company will approach innovation through the different levels of the organization, communication is key. Part of the messaging that is critical to understand is that innovation is not successful without financial impact, that ideas that are cool that don’t translate to business value are just information.

No two companies are the same, and the financial and personnel resources available to translate a new idea to business value are often different and will require a tailored approach. In addition, the organization will need to align on common definitions of and tailor the approach toward the innovative target types:

  • Product
  • Process
  • System
  • Service
  • Business model
  • Engagement model


And finally, Innovation is about people. Business value is the desired outcome but as I will cover going forward, it’s the people involved that will ultimately determine the degree of success.

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