Innovation A Strategy for Success
This can hardly be possible unless they demonstrate an ability to churn out newer and better products or services that meet the ever-changing needs of the marketplace worldwide. New product development must necessarily take into account not only the latest developments in technology and tastes but also the phenomenal growth in information and knowledge sharing channels. Online shopping, e-commerce, and web-based marketing, online market surveys, and virtual technology development centers have emerged as ubiquitous realities with the turn of the 21st century.
Innovation holds the key to facilitating appropriate change management strategies capable of seizing upon the emerging opportunities and delivering newer products and services with USPs. Corporations need to not only initiate the innovative process, but also sustain innovation in a continuous manner through the design, validation, and implementation of appropriate models for success. As Dr. William E. Coyne observed, "most modern companies now recognize that the best way to increase corporate earnings is through top-line growth, and the best route to top-line growth is through innovation." (2000)
Innovation needs to be a corporate character trait, one that is built over time-a tradition. Clearly, the person who starts a company is an innovator. the challenge for those who follow is to sustain that willingness to embrace new things and new ways of behaving" (1996)
Innovation is all about imagination and creativity. It deals in new ways with people, products, and processes. It looks inwards and outwards to sense challenges and opportunities and to adopt the latest strides in information and communication technology (ICT), knowledge management and software development, people management, and product development. Innovation looks out of the box to work out ways and means to turn threats into opportunities and challenges into winning strategies. For instance, the UK Department of Trade and Industry, while unveiling the strategies for facing new challenges, defines ‘innovation’ thus: "Innovation – the successful exploitation of new ideas, incorporating new technologies, design, and best practices – is the key business process that enables UK businesses to compete effectively in the global economy." (2005).
The 3M Model
A shining example of success through innovation can be seen in 3M, a large transnational corporation that is globally known for a mostly unrelated product mix ranging from Post-it notes to Scotchguard fabric protectors. This company, originally founded in Minnesota in the year 1902 as ‘Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company’, today operates in as many as seven diversified areas that include safety and security, communications, healthcare, graphic displays, transportation, consumer stationery, and industrial business. (3M.com, 2005). Having believed in the power of innovation from the word ‘go’, 3M brought out the world’s first ever waterproof sandpaper in 1920, invented the Scotch adhesive tape and masking tape in 1925, and went on to innovate, invent, and introduce newer and newer products at regular intervals. Today the company has a massive array of product lines with over 50,000 products. .