What would our life be without them: innovations? What is a popular word today in times of digital transformation has always been an integral part of our development. Whether it is the development of the zeppelin, the light bulb or the smartphone, they are all part of an innovative spirit and the combination of completely new approaches, often with existing mechanisms. In the blog parade “Innovations?! Future as a goal” the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen is looking for the approaches of the Buzzword. What are innovations, who can be innovative and how do you come up with ideas that change the world?

As an innovation profiler, I deal with innovations on a daily basis. Companies, organisations or start-ups are looking for them together with me in the current megatrends and technologies. However, why these innovations are actually needed is often not so directly questioned at first. You simply need them to survive in the long term. This is true, but not every innovation and every trend fits every company. It is a little more complicated to read the traces of change and to capture the appropriate trends and transfer them into the business context. However, an understanding of the basics can help to link this transfer.

 

MacBook Pro – Bulbs (Source: Apple)

What are innovations?

How do you define an innovation? If one wants to do it economically, one could go according to the definition of Pleschak and Sabisch:

“Innovation[is] the implementation of new technical, economic, organizational and social problem solutions in the company. It is aimed at fulfilling corporate goals in a new way.”

But does this really describe the meaning behind the word and the necessity of these’no’ votes? You should probably go a little deeper and look for the reason because: Innovations are necessary. are necessary. A changed view of a process or approach opens up completely new potentials and opportunities for companies, which also have long-term significance in the business model. If you do it right, not only one sector or department is affected by this change, but the entire company is in a jerk.

So it was with Apple, for example, when they first launched the iPod and then the iPhone, or with SONY with the Walkman. An innovation, a product that changes and realigns an entire company. Who remembers at Nokia, for example, that they used to make bicycle tires or rubber boots?

The more radical or revolutionary the idea, the more resistance can come from customers, suppliers or employees. It is often said to grit your teeth on the way to a new world.

 

The Types of Change

In innovation management, a distinction is usually made between two types of innovation: Incremental and radical innovations. Incremental innovations use technologies that have already been used and are therefore not completely unknown or new. The advantage of this type of innovation, however, is that it is less risky than radical innovations, but also less sensational.

The give up to radical innovations are completely innovative and new, they not only enter markets, they even create them for themselves. It should come as no surprise that this type of innovation entails a high risk, but also pays out the greatest profit if it is done right. Henry Ford, for example, took such risks when he replaced the horse-drawn carriage with the automobile. Today we know that he had just the right idea.

But before you start now to turn your entire business model around in order to develop the most radical innovation models possible, think again of my introductory warning. Not every kind of innovation suits every company and not every customer base. So before you get started, talk to a few people and evaluate the potential and opportunities you have.

Why the caution? If you look at the statistics, almost 70% of innovations fail within a very short time. Think of the Concorde or the HD DVD.

Therefore, pay attention to the following success factors:

  • New, unique and superior products
  • Exact knowledge of the target market
  • Sufficient market size
  • Sufficient market growth
  • Expertise in research, development and production
  • Synergies of marketing and management

 

 

The power of chance

Yes, some of these success factors sound like something for the big league. For companies that have a lot of money for research and development. But that is not the case. It also depends on my industry as a trend researcher that we are only something for the big companies. This is not wrong, but it is not exclusively so. Not every success factor is absolutely necessary. Often just one is enough to make the big one. Just as not every company needs the detailed trend report, but sometimes only the push in the right direction.

And one factor should not be forgotten in all considerations. Chance is the best friend of innovation. For example, the invention of teflon was supposed to produce a fire-retardant coolant. Porcelain was to become gold and the inventors of the bubble wrap loved by young and old originally wanted to develop a very unique plastic wallpaper in space look.

As you can see, sometimes all it takes is the right hand and a little of Fortuna’s attention.

Learn from historical innovations

The task of the blog parade was to take a closer look at the topic. To go into the core behind the innovations that have become an integral part of our everyday lives and to shed a little light on the dark side of the process. You should therefore also look into the past when it comes to new things. Learn from the experiences of the greats, from what you have shown us and what we can observe in museums such as the Zeppelin Museum.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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