product innovation

Innovation Insight: You Don’t Have To Be an Inventor to Be an Innovator

One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


Many people confuse the words innovator and inventor; they can be synonymous, but they don’t have to be. Some of the world’s most successful and well known innovators aren’t inventors at all; they are masters of the art of taking an idea or concept and making it better. Often, they are able to make good ideas into the best ideas of all time.

Take Steve Jobs, for example. Famous author, Malcom Gladwell, has dubbed him, “The Tweaker” in a recent article he wrote for The New Yorker. Jobs was a masterful innovator because he was able to take the ideas of others and turn them into winning products and concepts. For example, Jobs got the ideas for the main characteristics of the MacIntosh operating system from Xerox PARC, stemming from a famous visit there in 1979. The revolutionary iPad evolved from an engineer at Microsoft’s idea for a tablet computer. His idea made use of a stylus – an old idea that wasn’t revolutionary enough for Jobs. He did away with the stylus and the iPad made history as one of the most coveted devices of its era.

The moral to this innovation story? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to become an epic success.

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The Innovation Challenge: Using Process Innovation to Help Fund Product Innovation

The recent round of negative economic news has many business leaders wondering if another recession is just around the corner. That could explain why a recent Gallup poll found that 30% of American workers are worried about their jobs – matching the paranoia level of mid-2009.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we could find a way to make budget without costly cutbacks and layoffs?

There is a way. Process innovation can enhance your company’s output, productivity and cash flow. But it’s important to understand the difference between cost-cutting and process innovation.

Cost-cutting is a simple accounting exercise – cut budgets, trim fat, do less – or do it less well. In tough times, cost-cutting can be ruthless and arbitrary; often, it’s done to appease stakeholders and the markets. Too often, companies “cut” their way into bigger problems as they lose marketing traction or reduce customer service and delivery satisfaction.

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Innovation: Translating an idea into a sale

There are many definitions of innovation but, as always, business is ultimately about making sales.  So, let’s get to the point.  To be successful on a continuous basis, you need new ideas; one’s that can be commercialized.  What does that mean?  Your idea is relevant to your current or next-great customer group, and that you have the means to bring it to market in a timely and profitable manner.

Where do the ideas come from? More →

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