Do Conversations Fuel Innovation?

by Jay Deragon on 01/16/2008

Do Conversations Fuel Innovation?People don’t often discuss innovation rather we experience it. The experience of an innovative product or service usually is something that satisfies a need.People and organizations have lots of needs whether they be emotional, intellectual, spiritual or physical.

The quest for fulfilling needs is a major influence over human behavior.

So What is Innovation?

The classic definitions of innovation include:

  1. the act of introducing something new:
  2. a new idea, method or device.
  3. the successful exploitation of new ideas
  4. change that creates a new dimension of performance
  5. the process of making improvements by introducing something new

In economics, business and government policy,- something new – must be substantially different, not an insignificant change. In economics the change must increase value, customer value, or producer value. Innovations are intended to make someone better off, and the succession of many innovations grows the whole economy.

The term innovation may refer to both radical and incremental changes to products, processes or services. The often unspoken goal of innovation is to solve a problem. Innovation is an important topic in the study of economics, business, technology, sociology, and engineering. Since innovation is also considered a major driver of the economy, the factors that lead to innovation are also considered to be critical to policy makers. The primary factors include:

  1. Business model innovation involves changing the way business is done in terms of capturing value .
  2. Marketing innovation is the development of new marketing methods with improvement in product design or packaging, product promotion or pricing.
  3. Organizational innovation involves the creation or alteration of business structures, practices, and models, and may therefore include process, marketing and business model innovation.
  4. Process innovation involves the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method.

How Important is Innovation to Business

The McKinsey Quarterly recent edition says Innovation has become a primary force in determining company growth, performance, and valuation. Unfortunately, a wide gap exists between executives’ aspirations to innovate and their ability to execute.”

The execution gap McKinsey refers can be described as an inability to effectively communicate, engage and rally people around a new idea or even to obtain buy in to a new idea. Fundamentally engaging and creating agreements to execute is an issue of communications and a businesses connectivity with its people; suppliers, employees and customers, their entire market.

For business innovation can mean the difference between first place and last place in the marketplace.

Where Does Innovation Start?

Piers Gibbon writes about “The Innovative Conversation” The title was inspired by the researchers who have shown that “rich conversations”¹ have more value in business than “dehydrated, ritualized”¹ presentations. That “Connections and Conversations … provide the fuel for innovation” ² and companies need “to create a climate … where everyone feels the responsibility and desire to contribute to the organizations innovation performance.”

For businesses who have recognized that innovation requires access to the diverse opinions and experiences of all its people. This happens when its people are brave enough to expect and reward honest talk and real emotions

In an early post titled “Systemic Changes to the Web” we wrote: “Innovation inevitably spawns further innovation throughout the supply chain of interconnected elements that fuel Web usage patterns, and the social Web facilitates systemic changes which are fueled through such innovation. The social Web brings more influential human elements with global reach than any previous technological development in the history of the Web. Combine the influence of the human elements with the economic power of relationship driven commerce and you have a scenario that will create further changes unforeseen, unpredictable, and unimaginable.”

These changes are profound and create historical shifts that open opportunities for those who prepare and embrace the factors that enable a successful transition from the old economy to the new.

Innovation starts with a conversation. The social web provides the means for scalable conversations, one to one to millions. So again, do conversations create innovation?

What say you?


Michael Pokocky January 18, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Only if knowledge is shared freely without expectation.

Maarten Bordewijk January 16, 2008 at 5:57 am

Communication is a highly underestimated tool in any part of business: development, management, etc.

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