The importance of innovating

Innovation is a success factor for any business.

Innovation is one of the great issues nowadays. A lot is said about the need to innovate, linking it to competitiveness, growth and market survival. But what is the real meaning of innovating? 

If we look in the dictionary, the explanation helps us understand what we must do: “introducing novelty; doing something as it was not done before”. This definition is completed by what the consultant Ernest Gundling, author of the bookThe 3M Way to Innovation, says): “Innovation is equal to new ideas plus actions which produce results”. In other words, for him, innovating is doing something different than what was done before, in a way to generate value. 

Sebrae (Brazilian Service of Support to Small Businesses and Small Companies) makes its contribution, by qualifying innovation as the manner in which companies respond to consumer demands. In its handbook Do different, innovating is anexcellent business, states: “It is by innovation that a company can continue to be alive in the market, continuallyadapting and improving its products and services to satisfy its customers’ requirements, which are in permanent transformation”.

Sebrae lists five different possibilities for innovating in a company, emphasizing that they do not always apply to all types of business:

• Innovation of product;

• Innovation in services; 

• Innovation in marketing;

• Organizational innovation;

• Innovation in process.

We are going to explain the first four of them, as the last one applies more to industries, showing the opportunities for you to innovate.  

Innovating in product 

This occurs when a new product is launched or when a product which already existed receives alterations which make it better. But Sebrae emphasizes that it is not only a question of creating something: “Only the launching of a new product, even though it has a patent granted, does not mean that there was innovation. To be able to say that there was innovation it is necessary that the market accepts the product and comes to use it, and that the company has profit with it. A new product which remains dormant on the shelf is not innovation; it is merely an attempt which did not succeed in the market”, states Sebrae. 

An example of successful innovation was the Embraco Fullmotion variable speed o compressor.

Innovating in services 

It means offering a new service or improving a service which already exists. There are many possibilities in this area, seeking to bring convenience and practicality to the customer.Sebrae gives two simple and very interesting examples, linked to service at home, which can inspire storekeepers and cooling professionals: 

• Laundries which fetch the dirty clothes and return them clean to the home of customers are an example of improvement of an existing service (washing clothes);

• Telepizzas, which add the service of delivering a product already existing (pizza).

Innovation in marketing

In this case, it concerns the way of presenting or selling a productor service, in order to increase sales. Creative promotions, new ways of relating to customers, creation of new forms of payment are a few examples.  

Innovating in organization

Here, generally speaking, the aimis to improve management and reduce costs, using new methods or even those which are already known, but the company does not yet use. 

Many things can be done in this area, including the implementation of new routines and procedures, making agreements with other companies for joint purchase or to reduce logistical costs. An interesting example is the implementation of quality management. Read + in Specialties on Call

To finish, we are going to undo an idea which exists in many sectors, including in cooling: “My market does not require innovation”. As Sebrae warns, those thinking this will certainly be surprised, sooner or later. There always appear companies and professionals interested in standing outthat innovate and seduce the clientele. Be attentive and innovate, always!

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Professor of innovation management of IMD (Institute for Management Development), of Switzerland, Jean-Philippe Deschamps is acknowledged to be a specialist in the matter. See here some of his opinions and recommendations concerning the issue. 

Innovation and customers:

“I do not believe that customers are capable of answering if they will use a determined productor not. It is necessary to take into account the environment in which they live, understand their needs, but under no circumstances is it necessary to place them face-to-with the concept of a new product, because new ideas are already rejected. What is essential is to seek to know the customer in depth, so that this knowledge aids us in predicting its preferences. One can only innovate when one knows what is reallyimportant to our customers.”

Environment for innovation:

“It is important that there is anenvironment which favors the first discoveries. If the work environment is excessively rigid, new projects will never appear. The companies which aim at innovating must give freedom to their employees and encourage bold behavior, so that they feel tempted to create.”

Assembly of an ideal team for innovation:

“Creativity comes from diversity. That is why, moreimportant than having innovating individuals is being able to combine different personalities. Diversity enriches the group. The objective must be to create teams with different qualities, which is why it is also good to join very daring people with more conservative ones. Thus, the former will think or create, and the later will ensure that the group remains realistic.”

Skills required to face an innovation process

“The most generic or universal qualities are, for example, the capacity of working more quickly, that of being more flexible, that of recomposing the work teams or of creating a new market. A salesperson can know how to sell a product, but will (s)he know how to create the demand if the market is absolutely new?”

How to decide which ideas are good

“A combination of vision of the future and research. However, much beyond the idea, success depends upon the impulse given to it. It is necessary to havea sufficientlyrigorous process to ensure that the project is feasible, but without there being anexcess of filters which prevent innovation. If we are excessively rigid and analytical, innovation will never occur. Innovations are not born perfect. The first fax appliance was not perfect, nor were the first Walkman or the first car. Nonew product is perfect.”

 Passages of interview of Jean-Philippe Deschamps, published in the bookInovação e Mudança: autores e conceitos imprescindíveis (Innovation and Change: indispensable authors and concepts), organization of Carlos Alberto Julio and José Salibi Neto. Publifolha, 2001.[/box]


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