Innovate – To Innovate or Not to Innovate?
Innovation is the adaptation of better performing ideas or new products or services to prevailing conditions or to the needs and interests of users, producers, suppliers, or customers. It may also mean a radical change in existing procedures or instruments, methods, or goods, especially with regard to their design or structure. The ability to innovate results from the adoption of better performing techniques and more effective processes. Innovations may be undertaken for improving quality, effectiveness, service, quantity, safety, utility, and location. It is the capacity of a business or an organization to adopt and implement better processes and practices that enable it to carry on its activities and continue to meet its responsibilities.
Inventors, makers, and innovators, have defined innovation differently in many ways, yet they all share a similar concept of what it means to invent. Innovation is the creative application of already existing techniques or devices, or of new products or services, to new applications or to new needs and demands. ISO 27001: 2021 defines innovation as “the process or activity of discovering, developing, testing, using, and selling new and improved products or services that deliver better performance than existing ones”. Productive innovations, improvements, and inventions arise when new and better techniques and methods are used to conduct a business that makes it more efficient, while also meeting the needs and expectations of consumers. An example of a creative innovation could be a new manufacturing process that yields higher quality or an improved process for removing solid waste or eliminating contaminated sites.
Innovations in Lean Manufacturing have resulted in significant improvements in the efficiency of businesses, and increased customer satisfaction. Lean manufacturing principles are designed to improve the speed of production, eliminate waste, and decrease defects. Innovations in Lean manufacturing theory consider the incremental improvements that can be made in processes, services, and overall business strategies. Innovation starts with a vision and then works towards a goal. The three basic steps in an innovative process are discovery, assessment, and improvement.
To apply the simple definition of an innovation in lean startup, a company must first identify the problem, find a simple solution, and then make an investment to make the solution a reality. Often times, the focus of an innovative idea is on process improvements. However, by embracing this definition of an innovation, companies do not have to make massive structural changes to their business structure. Often times, small processes that allow businesses to more efficiently operate will provide the needed boost for productivity. In other words, innovation can occur even in traditional, “non-conventional” businesses.
When businesses are able to identify their problems and then solve them through simple, incremental improvements, they are said to be innovating. These innovative solutions often come in the form of new ideas. For instance, many Lean manufacturing principles advocate that businesses adopt the philosophy of “moving parts” throughout the manufacturing process. By doing so, new ideas like faster process operation, or reducing cycle times, can be implemented. In addition to using parts throughout the manufacturing process, the overall quality and efficiency of the business can be improved through reduction of waste such as excessive packaging or excess stock.
While it may seem complicated, lean manufacturing principles to provide an effective framework for new ideas and inventions. By applying these principles, businesses can easily apply the new definition of innovation to their businesses. Because lean startups need to develop new ideas on a continuous basis, continual analysis and evaluation of business processes are necessary.