To generate creative business ideas, breakthrough innovators must be fiercely tested and wisely deployed.- – Jeffrey Cohn, Jon Katzenbach and Gus Vlak (2009)
Companies who -play it safe- in a product/production focused market can lose opportunities for innovative product development. For example, many small businesses involved in creating technology products have to choose between supporting functional or developing innovative products. Functional products can be best described as products that satisfy basic needs. Innovative products are typically cutting edge, highly improved or revolutionizing in nature. To ensure future success and revenue, managers or key decision-makers within an organization choose to remain loyal and focused on functional products. Although this may seem like a safe idea, disruptive change in the technology industry can swiftly eliminate the need for some of these types of products. Instead, small companies who seek to claim a stake in the highly competitive technology market must devote the time and energy to produce innovative products. In fact, the innovative products are often the disruptive catalysts that change an industry and create solid products for a company’s future. In a research article by Cotterman, Fusfeld, Henderson, Leder, Loweth and Metoyer (2009), companies with high internal approval for innovation in product development have higher rates of information retention, clearer performance indicators and a speedy development process. (pp. 16 )
Furthermore, innovators within company ranks must be recognized, fostered and groomed as integral pieces of a company’s success. Otherwise, companies will rest on their previous laurels and depend on success from aging products and technology. Cohn, Katzenbach and Vlak (2009) go further to recommend four steps companies should heed when seeking innovation in their products and companies. First, innovators should be given flexibility in the workplace, access to resources and managerial support. Second, mentorship programs should be made available to further develop innovative spirit among employees. Third, peer networks need to be established to help innovators cope with the pressure to perform and to bounce ideas off fellow employees. Fourth and lastly, place the innovators in the place where they can make to most difference in the company, the middle. In the middle, innovators are directly between front line operations and executive decision-making. (pp. 5-7) Innovative products are consistently being sought by ambitious businesses. A proven method to develop products is to foster, develop and implement innovation in employees. Companies will build their customer bases on functional products and continue to keep and grow customers throughout the future with innovative ones.
Sethi, R., & Sethi, A. (2009). Can Quality-Oriented Firms Develop Innovative New Products?. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26(2), 206-221. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2009.00346.x
Cotterman, R., Fusfeld, A., Henderson, P., Leder, J., Loweth, C., & Metoyer, A. (2009). ALIGNING MARKETING AND TECHNOLOGY TO DRIVE INNOVATION. Research Technology Management, 52(5), 14-20. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
Cohn, J., Katzenbach, J., & Vlak, G. (2008). finding and Grooming Breakthrough Innovators. Harvard Business Review, 86(12), 62-69. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Aquilano, N.J., Chase, R.B., Jacobs, F.R. (12Ed.). (2009). Operations & Supply Management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.