Innovation is about the trail, not the train.
Trying to define what is and is not an innovation can often lead to a long and fruitless discussion. Something can be new to the company or to you, but not to the market or to the world.
I prefer to understand innovation as a process. A systematic and managed process that enables companies to build the capability of transforming ideas into value. Therefore, it is important that this process involves:
- Insert innovation as a value in the company culture, acting on aspects such as risk tolerance, error acceptance, creativity, entrepreneurship and knowledge management (to extract the value even if the attempt to innovate did not work out as planned).
- Align the internal processes and workflows to give people clarity about which paths to take, avoiding red tape and increasing transparency
- Structure in the company two skills: making incremental innovations for today’s business, while generating the innovations that will make the business of the future.
Innovation cannot be hysteria, a fad. It has to be developed as a business capability, aligned with the strategy and in line with the internal parts (employees, partners) and external stakeholders (clients, suppliers, society).
Finally, it is important to remember that innovation is not a panacea – it is an organized process, stimulated top-down and nourished by a favorable environment.
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Maria Paula Oliveira is the Manager of Corporate Innovation at Serasa Experian and Experian Latin America, a major credit and marketing information corporation. Her core expertise includes innovation management, market analysis, trends identification, business development, negotiation, strategic planning, competitive intelligence and marketing. Maria Paula is both an American and Brazilian citizen.