Innovation: A Predictable Process?
Few weeks ago, I had the great honour of being invited to be a Guest Lecturer at my alma mater, Birkbeck University of London, to introduce the Innovator’s Method to MSc Business Innovation students.
At the end of the lecture, the class and I had a lively discussion on whether innovation could become a predictable process.
Truth is, it all comes down to how we view innovation.
Is innovation an art or science? Is it strategy or creativity?
If we look at past innovations, we would find that innovation is both art and science. It involves both creativity and strategy.
While the creative part would remain somewhat elusive, and would be unique to the innovator, patterns in the strategic routes taken by innovators can be discerned, thus making innovation a more predictable process.
Indeed, if we look at past innovations, we would find that there are patterns in how innovators found, developed, commercialised and scaled their respective ideas. More importantly, the market impact of an idea would predict its development, go-to-market and scaling strategies.
For instance, an idea that creates a new trend would need to prototype much earlier than an idea that occurs within an existing trend. In terms of commercialisation, the trend creating idea would need persuasive go-to-market strategies as opposed to a word of mouth approach.
Thus, a new formula for innovation would look more like this:
Market impact(insights*creativity)+ strategy(development+go-to-market+scaling)~innovation
Insights and creativity would give rise to a business idea, and an understanding of the market impact of an idea would predict its development, go-to-market and scaling strategies. Except for the creative element, all the other variables in this approximation can be derived from research, experiments and analysis.
Thus, innovation could be thought of as… a near predictable process.