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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 04-Oct-2018
Posted by: Angela HENGSBERGER
Category: Innovation goals

5 things that your innovation history teaches you for the future


If you want to be more strategic with your future innovation, it is worth taking a closer look at your own innovation. This protects you and your company against expensive, flops, false expectations and the risk of being unpleasantly surprised by disruptive developments in your industry. In this blog entry, you will learn what an innovation tribe is and what valuable lessons you can draw by looking at the history of innovation.

It may surprise you, if the strategic employment with something as in the future as innovations begins with a glance back. But even for companies, "no origin has no future". The more closely you deal with your history of innovation, the more detailed you can plan your further Inventions path and the less often unpleasant surprises occur.

What an innovation is, determine yourself

As a first step, you should first of all clearly define what is for you and your company at all an innovation. Do you understand a development that all other players in your industry are geared to? Was your innovation really new for your company or for the market? Have you developed something new, because your competition has just launched a similar novelty? Do you describe the Me-Too product, which is distinguished by factors such as price or distribution, as innovations? In short, what are innovation for you that have made your company what it is today?

Case Study Strategic Innovation management


1. What innovations can you expect from your company?

This individual definition, which results from your past, already points the way into your future of innovation. Because: If your company has so far produced Signature Innovations, the market will be disappointed by the launch of a Me-Too product. And vice versa: If you have been successful with imitation products so far, your research and development department will be overwhelmed to create a breakthrough innovation. Apart from happy coincidences.


2. How many and how regularly do you place innovations on the market?

If you have defined what is an innovation for your company, you can make the development of your own innovation tribe. Every new development important for your company is marked as a separate branch. The "apple tree" provides valuable impulses for your company's innovative family tree. On this, every device that Apple has developed since the Apple I in 1976 is marked as a branch with the year. A family tree therefore shows you the time intervals your company has produced important innovations. You should pay attention to the balance here: A research and development department, which is too active in the process, that produces innovations in the running band, could be challenging other departments such as sales.

If, on the other hand, your innovation tribal tree consists mainly of trunk, but few branches or rejuvenates, the alarm bells should shrill. Because then your operation runs the risk of completely disappearing from the market. Such breaks in innovation can have many reasons: you are currently working on the restructuring of your company, you are driving hard and you do not have any resources for further development at the moment.


3. In which areas are innovations particularly worthwhile?

You can also show your innovation tribe in a more detailed way than Apple did: Draw innovations that have produced whole product groups as a branch. Smaller further developments, which had merely as a result of improvements, are a ramification. In this way, you can identify the sectors in which they have been very diligent, and in which niches they have left it with few innovations. This can help you decide in which areas there is potential for improvement and in which development is less rewarding. Just as with a real fruit tree, a clever cut can help the entire organism to more and more healthy growth.


4. What patterns have you achieved so far?

An innovation tribal tree helps you to recognize patterns. Especially if you take into account not only successes but also flops in your innovation history. You can then reconstruct the paths that lead you to successful new developments or failure. Did the innovations well-suited to the needs of your direct customers? Have you always succeeded when you launched new products together with partners? From the history of your successes, or even failure, patterns can always be derived. If you apply these to your future innovation, you will minimize the risk of flops.


5. Is your industry facing a breakthrough innovation?

Even further, you can reduce the risk of failure if you put your development cycle in your industry as a slide over your innovation trunk. Breakthrough innovations occur at very specific intervals, which differ from industry to industry. Such innovations can make whole industries disappear.

One example: before ice was artificially made, frozen water was mined from natural resources and shipped all over the world. This business was so rewarding that ice shipping became the most important industry of its time.

Two inventors, however, marked the sudden end of this sector: Ferdinand Philippe Carré presented a machine at the world exhibition in 1892 that could artificially produce about 200 kilograms of ice per hour. And Carl Paul Gottfried Ritter von Linde developed the first refrigerators, which used the cold-cooling technology named after him. The founding of the company of the German engineer and inventor, the Linde Group, is today an international group.

If you now analyze your industry more closely, you will come across disruptive inventions that occur in very specific rhythms. This allows you to determine whether such an innovation can be expected in the near future or not. Then you can focus on your innovation activity - or you can even create such a disruptive idea.


Conclusion: Learn from your history of innovation

As far as innovation is concerned, management often tends to make announcements that are difficult to meet. Statements such as "We want to earn half of our sales in two years with products that are not older than three years" are often also to be read in annual reports. Because: To tackle the issue of innovation offensive is a good thing to stakeholders and which company does not want to be considered as a future-oriented company? Whether these ambitious projects can actually be implemented can be estimated from the past. An innovation trunk of your company can protect you against false expectations, signal the need for action, show niches for innovations and warn you of widespread upheavals in your industry. Do not miss out on such valuable information.

Strategic Innovation Management


Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.

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