The reality of innovation unzipped: An investigation in middle market Australia

13 Apr 2007

The middle market companies in this study clearly believe that innovation will energise business growth. And when implemented well, they believe that innovation will be a driving force to achieve profit and sustain value. The study captured the obstacles as well as the opportunities from innovation. It also identified successful implementation as a major challenge.Key Insights from the report (p.5) This investigation identified seven major insights into innovation in the middle market that come from shared learning and collaboration. We look at how these insights can address some of the challenges associated with converting innovative ideas into business, growth and return on investment (ROI).

1. Innovation energises business growth and creates value
Innovation in the middle market results from market pressures and customer demands, not just from novel technologies and product developments. It is driven by practical business realism and is about creating and energising business growth and creating value.

2. Innovation fosters imaginative business models
For middle market companies to be successful in innovation they need to build more imaginative business models and creative ways of organising. They need to create a culture that enables experimentation, learning and managed risk.

3. Innovation needs partners
Innovation is not a solitary pursuit – it needs partners, collaborators and alliances. Innovative ideas, by definition, rarely confine themselves to a single group. They require support. They need to be built on and will flourish with input from different groups, from different locations adding different skills, disciplines and experiences.

4. Disciplined innovation contributes to competitive outcomes
Innovation is about doing the hard yards. It is worthwhile only if executed as a disciplined, structured and sustainable process in enterprises. In this way it will result in a demonstrable contribution to competitive outcomes.

5. Innovation motivates people
Innovation makes people feel positive. It is one of the rare change processes which excites, motivates and engages.

6. One size does not fit all
Innovation is highly context-specific in business. The path to innovation for any particular enterprise depends on a thorough understanding of its business strategy and capabilities, its position in its industry sector domestically and globally, and the external market conditions and trends it faces.

7. Innovation is multi-faceted, complex and must be repeatable
Enterprises must simultaneously foster wide-ranging creative thinking and experimentation and yet be disciplined. They must risk failure and monetary loss yet deliver ROI. They must overcome complacency and commitment to traditional and successful approaches, and be able to repeat processes that manage and implement innovations over time. And above all they must have the courage and vision to stay the course and deliver.

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