About Innovation


Innovation is a term which probably means as many things to as many people. This makes it quite intriguing because in a number of organizations the term is seen as a catch-all medicine for all ailments which can be used to solve any problem. I came across a rather interesting set of slides describing the innovating process at IBM.

There are a few things which i thought i wanted to mention here. One is the fact that IBM uses a set of tools and processes for managing the innovation process from the idea to implementation in different ways for different types of ideas, and ideas which are internal and those which are external are treated in ways which are different from each other because the stake-holders for each of those are different. This is interesting because unless the stake-holders in the innovation process are not part of the process of building of ideas, leading to innovations, these would at best be partial successes, some ideas being half-baked other being ones which maybe meet some requirements partially, but could have done much more with the includion of stake-holders in the innovation process.

Another interesting aspect of this is the inclusion of the Communities of Practice in the innovation process. This is important because this is a recognition of two things:

a. All innovation is directly or indirectly knowledge-driven (ok, maybe directly, but even if you think indirectly, this wont disappoint you).

b. Knowledge is distributed across the organization in ways which at times even the organization doesnt understand.

Why i believe this is a recognition is because with the inclusion of communities in the innovation process, not only are we broad-basing the idea-generation point of the process, but also including the expertise of people across the organization in building on these ideas, editing them, refining them, encouraging some, discouraging others, till a point that a rough idea is refined and brought to a level where it can be taken to fruition because the way it can add value to specific stake-holders has been defined well. This knowledge of the community could be process, organization, technology, customer, market, or any similar form of knowledge which now the organization has the capability to bring to bear upon the creation of value in ways which werent thought about earlier. What this means is that by bringing the community to bear upon these ideas, the cream of these ideas could rise to the top.

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