Five Ways to Prosper in the Innovation Age

Why are some companies, such as Google and Apple, successful at innovation while others aren’t? The simple answer is that these thriving companies have mastered the principles of innovation. They are not afraid to venture into new, uncharted waters; on the contrary, they embrace innovation.

In his 1985 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, management guru Peter Drucker described innovation as “the specific instrument of entrepreneurship and the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” In Managing Creativity and Innovation, authors Richard Luecke and Ralph Katz defined innovation as “the successful introduction of a new thing or method and the embodiment, combination, or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes or services.” 

Equation 1: Innovation = Function (Invention, Commercialization)

Innovation, then, is something “new” that consumers are willing to buy and that results in a profit for the innovating organization. Equation 1, above, shows that innovation is a function of invention and commercialization, in which the combination of the invention’s practicality and the ability to commercialize it is a measure of its value. This concept of “value” is what distinguishes innovation from invention.  

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged the United States to win the future by “out-innovating” the rest of the world. “Out-innovating” is the essence of what the Innovation Age is all about. So how does an organization thrive in this new era? Here are five principles
that can help you prosper in this fundamentally unique era.


Principle 1: Innovation is one percent ideation and 99 percent implementation.

Successful innovation is not just a brilliant idea. Rather, as noted in Equation 1, executing a successful innovation requires both an invention and successful commercialization. In The Other Side of Innovation, authors Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble noted that turning ideas into breakthrough products, services and process improvements requires a trust-based partnership with the performance engine of the organization.

This partnership is essential because an idea by itself is just an abstraction. To be useful, the idea must be implemented in the form of a demonstration, prototype or product.