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Definition of Innovation
The term innovation refers to that process where an individual conceives an idea that has never been thought and put it into operation with the intention of producing a new merchandise, procedure or service. The process of innovation could be in terms of an idea that has never been seen or an improvement of existing products so as to arrive at another unique and better product. For a development to be an innovation it has to be a new idea which may be out of new customer needs or a new method of production. The process of innovation arises out of small or big adjustments to products or services as guided by vision of an enterprise (Urabe, Child & Kagono, 1988).
Concepts of Innovation, Invention, and Creativity
The terms innovation, invention and creativity are frequently used interchangeably without consideration of the fact that they are fundamentally different. The innovation is used mostly to refer to a new idea which has not been in existence before. Therefore it is appropriate to consider that innovation is that procedure involving the idea creation, improvement and effectively being put into use. In the entire process of innovation, creativity is the initial step which is very important in generation of a functional idea. Therefore creativity will discover the initial components and blends to arrive at several useful new ideas from which the most feasible are chosen and implemented. After creativity, the invention is the next step where the created ideas are further selected to have the best and those that are irrelevant are eliminated. Moreover, invention will involve the detailed analysis of the ideas and improvement so as to arrive at their workable form and involve several testing iteration processes so as to arrive at fine ideas. Therefore invention plays a critical role developing detailed parts of an idea and involves a lot of repetition of effort (Kumar, 2008). This means that the three terms are closely related with the innovation being the overall process of creating an idea, inventing it and fully being utilized in an enterprise. Thus the creativity and invention are components of innovation which is the entire process of converting ideas into opportunities and ultimately into marketable products and services.
Technical/Traditional Verses Creative/Intuitive Problem Solving
The traditional problem solving is different from creative problem solving because they are carried out through different procedures. The traditional approach has unstructured procedure of collecting, arranging and considering problems data. Therefore the outcome is often not predicted and not effective in resolving or preventing future recurrence of particular problems. Moreover, it concentrates in solving an individual problem without considering the surrounding environment where such processes are being accomplished. On the other hand, creative problem solving put into consideration all factors that affect the entire process so as to arrive at a solution which does not conflict with existing systems. Thus it focuses on individual problem, the tools used, the working environment and external factors. Creative problem solving may change the entire system so as to arrive at a problem free process. Therefore we can conclude that the traditional approach lacks effective procedures for identifying solutions whereas creative approach has innovative ways of resolving problems and identifying any potential hitches which are corrected promptly (Heuvel, 2008).
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Importance of Innovation
The process of innovation is very important to the success of individuals, organizational leaders, organizations, and nations. The most innovative individuals are hired by organizations to improve their product or service creation leading to them having successful careers. On the other hand those individuals who are not employed out of their innovation may choose to start their own enterprises. With their innovation skills they are able to discover new opportunities which help them to meet their needs and wants. These individuals are able to create resources for producing wealth hence innovation is a very important process to them (Kumar, 2008).
The success of organizational leaders is measured by the extent of productivity in their organizations' which is increased through innovation. Several organizations expect their leaders to be able to adjust effectively to dynamic environment so as to ensure their operations remain relevant in business environment. The responses will include; readjusting priorities, proper resource allocation, change the culture of organization as well as respond to any unpredicted changes in the market. Thus the only way for the managers to be able to meet their work demands is through innovation. Therefore it is a very important process to the leaders because they are able to make major organizational decisions with the help of innovation (Storey & Salaman, 2005).
As for organizations, the process of innovation enables them to acquire competitive advantages over their competitors with the utilization of innovative products which attracts dynamic customers who have strong desire for new products. The sophisticated innovation exhibited by a company leads to better view of the company by both consumers and retailers hence the increased demand for the company's products which exceeds that of non innovative competitors. Moreover, aggressive innovation has a negative effect on competitors, who copy others on the products because whenever they produce a similar product, an innovative organization is already producing new ideas as well as products (Traill & Grunert, 1997).
Moreover, a nation has to be innovative so as to create employment opportunities for its citizens and improve its gross domestic products and avoid reliance on foreign aid. Thus innovation is a very important process to the success of various independent parties. The opportunities arise with innovation which when utilized it can earn a nation well deserved foreign exchange before it can be imitated by any other nation. The process of innovation in nations has helped them to create innovative learning curriculum so as to produce experts in innovation for future development of the nation. The globalization has allowed trade between several countries which make it easy for nations to find new customers and niche markets for their innovative products and services (Kumar, 2008).
Importance of Management Systems and Styles to Innovation
The process of innovation is not easy and as such depends on several factors including management systems and styles. Since the process of innovation is dynamic and continuous, it calls for the improvement of in all management systems and styles because the old systems may slow or block the innovation process. Therefore it is important to have new styles of management as well as systems which are very important in managing effective innovation (Christiansen, 2000). Moreover, the up to date systems are important in enabling the process of innovation because they help in processing of data and makes easy the analysis of huge data used.
The problem that several companies have is that the management systems and styles that they use in their innovations are not helpful. Therefore the smooth and flowing process of innovation is interfered with hence slowing it or sometimes ends up with termination. These management techniques could be very old and were intended to manage normal operations and not innovation processes. It is a fact that the managers understand the importance of sound management systems in innovation but sometimes discouraged where they do not have the required resources to replace with the latest systems (Christiansen, 2000).
Considering the above information relating to innovation, it is apparent that innovation is a process necessary for success of individuals, managers, organizations and nations. Therefore it is appropriate to conclude that innovation is a very important continuous process to improvement of humankind.