By: Hugh Dubberly
For the last few years, innovation has been a big topic in conversation about business management. A small industry fuels the conversation with articles, books, and conferences. Designers, too, are involved. Prominent product design firms offer workshops and other services promising innovation. Leading design schools promote “design thinking” as a path to innovation. But despite all the conversation, there is little consensus on what innovation is and how to get it. The current conversation about innovation is similar to an earlier conversation about quality.
As recently as the late 1980s, quality was something businesses actively sought but had trouble defining. Today, Statistical Process Control, TQM, Kaizen, and Six-Sigma management are common tools in businesses around the world.
As businesses have become good at managing quality, quality has become a sort of commodity – “table stakes,” necessary but not sufficient to ensure success. When everyone offers quality, quality no longer stands out. Businesses must look elsewhere for differentiation. The next arena for competition has become innovation. The question becomes: Can innovation be “tamed” as quality was?
Source: Interactions Magazine