By: Alberto Zaharia

The world is constantly changing and evolving at breakneck speed. Cities change and new needs arise. New products and services appear constantly to meet the new requirements and needs of consumers. From the buildings where we live and work, to the cars we drive, to the utensils we eat with, everything we use was at some point designed to create a marriage between form and function. Can these products be made interesting or attractive?

If companies are not constantly improving the products and services they offer, or if they do not renew them, their offerings become obsolete very quickly and the market takes care of their disappearance. But what is the way to renew? Innovating. Innovation has been around since the earliest days of human evolution; it has always been his essence to progress. Being able to identify a risk and react quickly and appropriately to it has helped man to overcome his main problems, starting with survival itself. Since then, innovation has been present and continues to be an essential and integral aspect of our lives.

According to Varela (2008), to achieve progress, development and well-being, change is essential. The change that has kept humanity in a constant search for new appropriate and creative ways to solve problems and limitations is precisely innovation. And what is innovation? In a few words, it is the creation or improvement of a product, service or methodology, and its introduction to the market generating an economic value, where said value is the gap between the amount that customers are willing to pay for the product and the cost of it. produce it.

Mistakenly, many companies believe that to generate innovation they have to have a great genius, a kind of guru. And faced with this mistake, they decide to hire a team of creatives or a group of avant-garde professionals, and sooner rather than later they realize that this is not the solution. Or they make the mistake of believing that innovation is summed up in the incorporation of new technology, and they promote it and push it within their companies without a specific meaning and end up drowning in cables and programs. What they are doing, deep down, is looking for luck or improvising.

What is the process of innovating? Every innovation process begins with first-hand knowledge of the product or service to be improved, clearly understanding its pros and cons, its strengths and weaknesses. It is the experts, technicians and direct users who must explain and support them before the innovation committee. Once all of them, direct users and members of the committee, agree with the current situation (the as-is situation) comes the next stage of brainstorming or brainstorming, in which all the ideas are valid and must be taken into account, even the apparently most absurd, without criticizing them, precisely so as not to inhibit the individual creative process. Everything unfolds in a chaotic but organized environment. An effective brainstorming session should revolve around, first of all, identifying the most relevant aspects of the product or service for the customer. For example, at IDEO, a company dedicated to the design and innovation of products and services, they identified four relevant aspects for the design of a new supermarket shopping cart: buying, providing security, paying and finding what you want. The cart had to allow these four areas to be given in an optimal way for the customer. Once these aspects have been identified, the next step in brainstorming is to design prototypes that satisfy these aspects. This is the time to be creative, inventive and even playful. For Bygrave & Zacharakis (2010) all people are creative but not all creativity techniques give the same results. Generating ideas requires training, active practice, and application. And the desire to connect and use these techniques requires a conductive framework for creative thinking.

The final prototype is born from the most suitable combination of the initial prototypes. The ideal result is a highly creative and innovative product or service, where each problem has been optimally solved.

Innovation helps to generate value by increasing income (if the product or service evolved into something for which the market is willing to pay more), or reducing output (the production and/or marketing of the product or service became cheaper) or increased customer satisfaction regardless of economic variables (which results in customer loyalty and retention over time).

Today innovation is more vital than ever in business. In a globalized world where competition is relentless and everything comes down to the creation and retention of value, it is essential to constantly develop improved proposals for clients or consumers and to do so in the most competitive way possible. Innovation helps companies stay focused on meaningful improvement and helps identify real-life problems. According to Davila & Ed. (2006), innovation is not only used in competitive markets but is also a means to redefine philanthropy and the role of governments in social innovation initiatives.

References and suggested bibliography:

Bygrave, W. & Zacharakis, A. (2010). The portable mba in enterpreneurship. New Jersey: John Wiley & Son, Inc.

Davila, T., Epstein, M. & Shelton, R. (2006). La innovación que si funciona. España: Ediciones Deusto.

Varela, R. (2008). La innovación empresarial. Colombia: Pearson. 

Timmons, A. & Spinelli, S. (2007). New venture creation. New york: McGraw-Hill.