The word innovation is one now used across a broad spectrum of areas; education, economics, invention and of course, business.
Ask a group of people what they believe to be the most important example of innovation and they will all give many different answers; the internet, the printing press, electricity or smartphones are amongst the most popular.
Innovation in business however covers very specific areas which are important to the furthering of ideas and inventions and these areas it covers and overlaps with are design and creativity.
Creativity means being open-minded and utilising personal expression. Creativity isn’t planned and there are no right and wrong answers. Creativity can refer to paintings, dance or sculpture but in business it’s a little different and means the thinking of novel and appropriate ideas. A company may have staff who are called creatives and they will probably work in promotion, advertising or marketing. Creativity in business which leads to innovation is about establishing a question and understanding the surrounding environment. Creativity in innovation generates questions about what we do in our lives, such as how we interact with objects. The result is that ideas are borne which eventually improve our environment and lives – this is business innovation.
Design is a process which is both creative and plannable. It has specific thinking styles with an intended outcome or intent; a good design. In a business context, there is often a design department such as for graphic work or product design and for some companies these teams are now known as innovation departments.
The design process is about putting engineering constraints, sociological constraints or economic constraints on the creative idea for a design and seeing how it could be manufactured into a tangible entity. Once developed, design ideas for innovation would be discussed with specialist attorneys such as those at http://www.londonip.co.uk/patent-attorneys/ with regards to invention patent matters.
The outcome of the meaning of innovation in business
If then innovation is the process of creating something new in the context of known constraints, then could it be seen as exactly the same as design? The answer here is both yes – and no. Design and innovation are indeed very closely linked. However, there is a specific difference when applied in a business context. It is true that design and creativity do have outcomes. Designing even has focused outcomes on requirements and preferred outcomes, but not specifically outcomes a business can reap some kind of financial gain from. Innovation in business then involves the creation of new ideas. Specifically though it needs the use, launch and exploitation of those new ideas, designs and technology to provide an enhanced business result which in turn means finding new customers, the entering of markets, increased margins and an advantage over competitors.
Innovation in business is about finding and exploiting a gap; one which has previously been observed. The follow-up is the development of a new product or service that fulfils that gap.
The areas of creativity, design and their relationship with innovation are all closely interlinked, with shared ethics, team skillsets, procedures and sometimes outcomes. Innovation is a quest requiring a mix of business knowledge, creative behaviour and design-led operating. It is capturing shared knowledge, expertise and processes which then means a company can capitalise on their ideas and link them to business opportunities as well as the needs of their audience. Business innovation therefore can be summed up as the exploitation of commerce-led ideas for the formation of new products, services or even processes.