A Framework for Innovation
Innovation, as a development within industry, does not occur randomly.
Specific elements come together to create a context supportive of
inventive thinking. Without people, incentive and resources, innovation
would stagnate and flounder.
According to the educational research project "The Four Pillars of
Innovation" conducted by the
of Canada, the factors that create a context for innovation are
leadership, people, culture and climate, and structures and processes.
Combined, these factors allow innovations and ideas to flourish.
Solid leadership in an organization drives the innovation process forward.
Leaders make sure there is open communication between departments and
employees and generate enthusiasm for a project. While they may not be the
original inventor of an idea, they are often the force that ensures an
invention makes the journey from concept to product. By allocating
resources and providing management skills to projects, they help get
innovations off the ground.
The "people" pillar refers to the human resources available to an
organization, their complementary skills and the harmony of their efforts.
Effective teamwork, a willingness to collaborate and openness to new ideas
create a pool of talent from which an organization can draw strength.
Ultimately it is the individuals in an organization that generate new
Teamwork alone is not enough to ensure innovation is supported. How people
interact with each other is influenced by their environment. A countrys
political climate can have an effect on innovation. For example, a
cash-strapped government may have to be highly selective about what
projects they fund. Sensitive issues that are debated in the public arena,
such as global warming or acid rain, may also influence the governments
decision about where to invest or whether or not to create policies, such
as those supported by the
Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
A nation as diverse as Canada, with many different nationalities and
interest groups coexisting side by side, will have a different environment
for innovation than a country where individuals share the more similar
backgrounds and experiences. Education also plays an important role. The
broader your knowledge, the more areas and resources you will be able to
combine to look for connections between technologies and ideas.
A country or organization that supports education will likely produce more
innovators and inventors. There is also the workplace climate to consider.
Innovative employees thrive in an environment with strong leadership and
teamwork. Many companies include within their mission or vision statements
a commitment to progress and innovation.
The coordination of these effortshuman resources, leadership and
environmentis made easier by certain structures and processes at the
organizational level. This is the most practical side of the innovation
process. It involves the development of strategies, project plans and
policies that support innovation. For instance, an organization that does
not have a complicated hierarchy may be in a better position to process
and transfer information, simply because there are fewer reporting levels.
Likewise, a companys marketing abilities and their physical resources are
also part of the pillar of structures and processes.
All of these supports can be scaled to meet a companys particular needs.
Large and small organizations alike can look to the four pillars when
creating a road map for innovation.
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