IdeaComb Blog

Innovation in Difficult Times

Innovation at times is a messy pool, hard to be measured, managed and taught. Most of the times, it is recognized only when it is fruitful and generates a surge in the growth rate. In another instance, during slack periods, executives just lay aside innovation efforts considering it to be having no real value or use. The mindset,” Innovation isn’t important” gradually shoots up and they lose their touch on it. The predefined thought, “Better maintain focus on the tried and true, than to spent money and resource on inadequate return from untested ideas”, gradually evolves.

In Contrary, innovation is the primary success factor that provides an enterprise with a sustainable competitive edge. Consider example of General motor, it could be much better today if it would have matched its innovation space set by other giants like Honda and Toyota. Apple would have been an utter failure had it not created its unique gadgets like iPad, iPhone. The Statement by Rigby, Gruver and Allen (2009) point out, “Innovation is both a vaccine against market slowdowns and an elixir that rejuvenates growth”.

What happens when times are bad and hard faced? Companies get distracted and disillusioned with their innovation efforts for reasons like; Innovation isn’t very important and necessary element for working of the organizations, missing creativity in ideas, unskilled for high risk gambling and so on.

But a revolutionary and systematic approach towards innovations can be captured during hard times. When the economy is in turmoil, that perfect time to focus on innovation. Prof Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor who focuses on innovation, says “The breakthrough innovations come when the tension is greatest and the resources are most limited. That’s when people are actually a lot more open to rethinking the fundamental way they do business”.

The parliament council of Iceland had called for a constitutional revision in response to the national economic meltdown, which had caused the country’s stock exchange, currency and banks to crash in October 2008.The Constitutional took an open innovation and Crowdsourcing initiative by using a mix of social media platforms YouTube, Twitter, Face book and Flickr for constitutional revision. Having posted draft clauses of the constitution on the website, people posted their suggestions, feedbacks and comments and even discussed pertinent issues on social media networks openly. This brought out notable ideas, such as the public ownership of Iceland’s natural resources, an article on information rights, and an attempt to enshrine the Parliament’s role in the supervision of financial management. Therefore, this initiative made Iceland to be world’s first “crowd sourced constitution” as termed by the media.

Innovation is thus essential in hard times yet the most difficult, develops a pushing element and a pressure to find, “Out of Box” solutions to problems.
Posted in Innovation Management, Managing Innovation