The heart of innovation: Part 1

In our ongoing series that looks at innovation, we hear from several Zintro experts about how they define and relate to innovation.

Steve Coe, a strategy development consultant, believes that innovation is an attitude and a state of mind that in successful companies exists through all levels of the business. “It is not limited to a team of highly talented engineers, and it is not measured on the size of the opportunity it presents. Innovation can be large or small, big or tall. In successful companies innovation starts with an idea, expressed over a cup of coffee. It develops and expands in the retelling and gains an audience in the board room. No idea is too big or small, there are no limits, and everyone and everything is heard,” he says.

Coe sees innovation as both incremental and game changing. “With perhaps the exception of Sony, far eastern companies tend to be associated with incremental innovation. Game changers have tended to be the domain of the west. My view is that going forward we are much more likely to see true game changing innovations coming out of Asia,” Coe predicts. “To support this, I need only point to the number of Asian students now being educated and working in the West. This education and the absorption of culture cannot fail to fuel new ideas and a new wave of innovation.”

Lesley Anne Rubenstein, a business development expert, says that innovation is implemented via teamwork. “If an innovation team is well-balanced in a technology-led company, it will include ideas, people, engineers/technicians, designers, translators, and communicators. We revel in innovative products when we enjoy the commercialized output, the functionality, and the design,” she says. “These products would not be the output of one person, even if that person gave birth to the idea. This is a key point; it is the team that brings the idea to the marketplace.”

Rubenstein says that innovation is everywhere: it could be an innovative business model or an innovative service, or mobile app. “At the heart of innovation, you will find a well-oiled team that communicates well, is highly motivated, and has fun working together,” she says.

Joseph DeFina, a branding and sales expert, says that elite innovators, like Steve Jobs, are unique and have a gift that separates them from the process-driven innovators running the halls of corporations world-wide. At the heart of their innovation successes are innate skills. “Elite innovators are much more than process and the originators of a product outline. At the heart of elite innovators are a complex set of skills that produce outputs made up of life-long experiences,” explains DeFina.  “We all have life-long experiences, but elite innovators consistently process the data of their life to make sense in a functional way. They are often misunderstood. That information processing was made possible by innate observation skills.”

DeFina says that elite innovators observe their own life and how other people interact with the people, places, and things around them. “Yesterday’s innovation, today’s innovation, and tomorrow’s innovation will be the result of keen observation skills on the part of the innovator. It includes intuition. Elite innovators get it immediately and can refine an application of their idea with precision. Elite innovators can also instantly simplify ideas so that the idea becomes relevant and valuable. The simplification skills trace from their observation skills. It takes the experiences of many years and innate skills to transform everyday occurrences to the next world-wide product innovation,” he says.

Jesus Ortega, an expert in and innovation funding, says that he has come across many examples of people whose minds are continuously bubbling with ideas. They range from agricultural devices to health instruments, from software or web ideas to teaching. “My conclusion is that the only necessary ingredient to raise an innovator is necessity. When there is a need, there will be a solution,” he says. “I think the next round of innovators will come from those areas where needs are present: food, environment, clean energies, and ICT.”

Charlie, an expert in retail logistics, also cites necessity as the heart of innovation. “Innovation, in its purest form, is what used to be called a work around. Nobody is creating anything new, they are just creating things smarter for the next generation,” he says. “People who are innovators are the ones who find a way to make something possible by using today’s technology and knowledge when everyone else has told them that it is not possible.”

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