With tools and technologies like 3D printers and cloud-based design programs that help users develop prototypes and bring products to market more quickly, companies have boomed over the past decade thinking outside the box and developing more novel products and services. With mobile devices at our disposal, it’s enabled organisations to make collaboration a breeze through the evolution of engaged, effective group work.
“These two forces of digitization and collaboration that have come together over past 10 years have completely changed the way companies can approach innovation”, said Tucker Marion, a professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern University. He says that these factors have created the “perfect storm” to help companies expand their ability to think creatively and generate new ideas.
His new book, The Innovation Navigator, shows managers and executives how to implement changes in their companies that will lead to better products and services that can be commercialised faster. The book also identifies four strategies or modes of innovation that companies can employ to transform their organisations in an era of unprecedented technological change.
Through the “specialist mode, venture mode, community mode and network mode”, Marion and co-author, Sebastian Fixson, studied how hundreds of companies, big and small, have tried to use these strategies to develop novel products and services in the past. In their book, they provide examples of how some companies succeeded—and others have failed—at exploring these methods.
Apple, they said, succeeded in the “network mode” by developing the iPod, by bringing together its internal technology departments, external suppliers, and ventures to design and refine the product, which launched in 2001 and by 2007 accounted for one-third of the tech giant’s revenue. Apple has continued to use this approach to develop many other products.
“We are (experiencing) very dynamic changes due to technology, competition, and disruption for many traditional industries”, Marion said. “Companies need to be faster and more agile. They need to respond more quickly to these changes by adding new and diverse actors to the innovation process that can help. They also need to get the most out of their employees.”