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What is Innovation?

Innovation is not a single event or activity, it is a process. In terms of business, innovation is the generation of fresh ideas, the ongoing development of products, services and processes and their commercial application. It also involves the commercial exploitation of viable ideas and the ongoing management of idea generation.

The following represents the most common steps involved in the innovation process:

  • Generating ideas with commercial potential
  • Concept proofing and prototyping
  • Developing a product
  • Execution and commercialisation
  • Evaluation and continuous improvement

In business, innovation can come from a variety of different sources. Sometimes it is the result of specifically focusing on creating new ideas, whereas other times it can be unexpected and the result of a spontaneous reaction to a particular need.What is Innovation?

Some of the common sources of innovation include:

  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Business competitors
  • Research and Development departments (in some specific businesses and industry sectors)

There are a number of factors that can prevent innovation from occurring. The following are some of the most common barriers to innovation in organisations:

  • Owners or managers are not open to new ideas.
  • Lack of time and resources.
  • Innovation can be too expensive for small businesses to get involved in.
  • Often, organisations lack direction in terms of innovation.
  • People don't have freedom to be creative.
  • Some organisations lack the ability to implement and commercialise new ideas.

Being able to recognise and work through these sources and barriers to innovation will help you to create an innovative culture in your organisation and assist you in successfully growing your business.

To find out more about what innovation actually is, please go to the ‘innovation' module.