Interview with Debra M Amidon
The key to developing an innovation strategy is looking at
knowledge-especially new knowledge-as a resource.
Interview by - Pradip
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).
||Debra M Amidon is the Founder and CEO, ENTOVATION
International Ltd., and author of The Innovation Superhighway.
What according to you is Innovation?
For me, Innovation means as follows:
Innovation is the creation, evolution, exchange and application of new
ideas into marketable goods and services, leading to the success of an
enterprise, the vitality of a nation's economy and the advancement of
society. Innovation encompasses the full spectrum from idea creation to
commercialization. Successful innovation depends on converting knowledge
flows into marketable goods and services. An innovation strategy is
similar to a road map. It outlines where an enterprise is to go, and
organizes the resources to get there. However, there is no perfect map,
and measuring devices may be imperfect. A competitor may change the
landscape before goals are reached. The key to developing an innovation
strategy is looking at knowledge-especially new knowledge -as a resource.
Innovation strategy, on the other hand, is a synthetic practice based on
innovation and uncertainty.
The innovation process includes three phases: Invention, translation and
commercialization. The first phase can focus upon creating something
'new'- usually considered an invention-or identifying something already
known that might be reused or used in a new way. Both feed the innovation
process. Both could be considered as part of the creation stage-knowledge
The second stage of the process is the conversion process,
where knowledge-sometimes in the form of technology-gets translated into
production and manufacturing. At stage three, the knowledge - now in the form of
some product or service - can be commercialized.
Further, we now need to look at innovation from the perspective of the flow of
knowledge: How it is created, converted into products and services and
commercialized for the benefit of a constituency. Innovation does not operate as
a valuechain. Instead, innovation operates as systems dynamic of interactions
-across functions, business units, sectors, industries and geographies.
Innovation applies in the profit and not-for-profit sectors of the economy.
Academic institutions, government agencies and NGO's must innovate just as
commercial enterprises do.
Some people feel that Innovation and Creativity are very much interrelated. Do
you think so?
Contrary to popular opinion, innovation is NOT creativity, although creativity
is needed throughout the entire innovation value-system. Also misunderstood,
innovation is NOT simply R&D; it requires the constant flow of knowledge from
all functions and stakeholders. In fact, at least 60% of what is needed to make
an enterprise successful is likely outside the company or even the geographic
region. And the measurement of the number of patents, graduate degrees or
communication lines is not necessarily an indication of innovation prowess. We
need modern indicators to calibrate the value-added of innovation.
Innovation is more a sense of 'ideas operationalized' than the creation of the
idea in the first place. Modern innovation includes how to manage the
collaborative process across boundaries, measure intangible value and
intellectual wealth, incubate new businesses, operate as a distributed network
of expertise, position competitively with new forms of intelligence and use
innovation technology to enable the whole process.
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