Leaders in technology

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Leaders in technology development are not necessarily leaders in technology adoption. The most important economic contribution does not necessarily come from the “early adopter” but from the “fast follower” who adopts the innovative design that captures the international market. As Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, puts it:” The operative assumption today is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it and put into action – fast.

” (Kotelnikov, 2007) The vital importance of the successful management of technology innovation in strategic thinking, organisational capabilities and in ensuring the competitive advantage of an organisation has possibly led management experts to feel that innovation managers should focus on technology innovation and not dilute their efforts in dabbling with other business processes.

While technological innovation is undoubtedly one of the most important components of the complete innovation process, innovation in area like business processes, marketing innovation, organisational innovation and supply chain innovation has also led to very significant gains for corporations. Business model innovation looks at changing the way organisations do business in terms of focusing on value and then capturing it. Well-known examples of such cases are Compaq vs. Dell, Hub and Spoke Airlines vs.

Southwest. Marketing innovation, on the other hand relates to the development of new marketing methods incorporating the use of new methods in product design, promotions or pricing. Innovation management is primarily the function of the top management of the company, in most cases, the CEO who works with a team of innovators with domain skills, creative thinking skills and intrinsic motivation. In 3M, for example, innovation is encouraged using some methods hat have proved to be successful over the long term.

• Setting stretch targets – such as ‘x% of sales from products introduced during the past y years’ – provides a clear and consistent message and a focus for the whole organization. • Allocating resources as ‘slack’ – space and time in which staff can explore and play with ideas, build on chance events or combinations, etc. • Encouragement of ‘bootlegging’ employees working on innovation projects in their own time and often accessing resources in a non-formal way – the ‘benevolent blind eye’ effect.

• Provision of staged resource support for innovators who want to take an idea forward – effectively different levels of internal venture capital for which people can bid (against increasingly high hurdles) – this encourages ‘intrapreneurship’ (internal entrepreneurial behavior) rather than people feeling they have to leave the firm to take their good ideas forward. (ABCs of Innovation, 2006) 3. Conclusion Innovation is a complex and dynamic process and necessarily involves a number of business areas and functions.

As such, trying to restrict the scope of work of innovation managers to specific areas, e. g. technical innovation only, goes against the very concept of freedom and creativity, an integral component of the innovation process. Trying to impose such barriers may actually harm the innovation mechanism by sending out wrong signals and discouraging creative employees. The CEO has to lay down the areas in which innovation will need to focus.

It is finally the maturity of the top management that will determine the focus of the innovation process and the final choice ideas that need to be followed up vis-a-vis those to be kept aside.


ABCs of Innovation, 2006, Retrieved from February 5, 2007 from www. csus. edu/indiv/v/velianitis/101/Innovation. ppt America’s Cutting Edge; Innovation Creates Industry, Opportunity. (2006, April 13). The Washington Times, p. A01. Blackburn, R. A. (Ed. ). 2003 Intellectual Property and Innovation Management in Small Firms. London: Routledge.

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