Structure of Innovation

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Structure of Innovation

Many believe that innovators are born, such as some genius like Mozart. However, our experience shows that innovation is an outcome of process and not some magic. In this we should follow the thinking of the most prolific innovator of all times, Thomas Alva Edison, who said “Genius is ninety nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.”

The way to look at the process of innovation is that Innovation Process can be thought of as a sailboat. The hull of this sailboat is the culture of the firm, the rudder of this sailboat is the functional expertise of the firm and the mainsail represents the winds of technology driving the innovation sailboat. For a layperson, it seems that technology alone matters since she sees only the correspondence between the technology and the innovation direction. However, the hull of culture has to be strong not only to absorb the force of technology changes but also to actually move forward in the desired direction. This desired direction comes from the functional expertise of the firm, hence we term it as the rudder of the sailboat of innovation. The layperson mostly misses the importance of the hull of the culture, in the journey of innovation sailboat, unless it is starts leaking. Also, she cannot fully comprehend that the functional expertise drives the direction of innovation.

Hence, the approach to innovation should have the following three aspects:

  • Cultural Aspects of Innovation
  • Technical Excellence for Innovation and finally
  • Functional Excellence for Innovation

The reason we should have this trifurcation is that Innovation is a never-ending process which can yield outcome on regular basis, creating value for the organization and for the society as well. This process, like any other process, needs to be thoughtfully designed and then reframed on regular basis. However, unlike other mundane processes, the process of innovation, although can prove to be an exciting journey, can feel nebulous to control on daily basis. That is because, unlike other processes, this process is deep rooted in the cultural meme of the organization.