How Innovation Does Not Always Solve Business Problems

3 Mins read

We know you’re probably skeptical because, most of the time, innovation is held in high regard and the end-goal for competitive advantage, and here we are saying that it’s not the answer to all your problems. However, we firmly believe that far too many businesses operate on the façade that innovation stands at the center of their values when it might not be the most suitable one to adhere to.

Sure, we won’t deny that innovation was, and still is, the main driving factor for all the prominent companies we see today, from the giants of the tech industry to the massive food corporations that exist throughout the world. But, we’ve long since strayed from the true definition of innovation and replaced it with mediocrity, wherein merely adding one or two features that solve nothing at all somehow translates to being innovative.

Innovation Is a Creation Out of a Series of Failures

Innovation is disruptive by nature; it shakes the very landscape of an industry, provides a novel solution to a real-world problem, has the capability of making current methods obsolete, and doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from the acceptance of constant failure, knowing the value of each one, and understanding that there is a light at the end of the tunnel when everyone else says otherwise. It’s more than just making an application or adding a flat-screen; it’s creating and introducing something new.

  • Not Efficient: Efficiency and productivity are two areas of business that are often coined as the results of innovation when, in fact, innovation is the exact opposite of being efficient. The act of investing and allocating resources into research & development that has no immediate guarantee of success is the underlying principle behind innovation. That type of thinking goes against the grain of efficiency because none maximizes output and can potentially be wasted effort.
  • Requires Significant Time Investment: Another critical aspect of innovation to consider is that it requires significant time investment and can potentially take years before you reach any milestone. For any company concerned with the now and competing in real-time, investing in real innovation is a difficult prospect.

Let’s Talk Industries

Likewise, the need for innovation can vary across industries, and some are more inclined to focus their efforts on investing in new technologies or trying out never before seen products. So, to make our claim of innovating not being the answer to all problems unbiased and believable, let’s take a look at different industries.

#1 Innovation in the Corporate World

Ah yes, the corporate world is an excellent example where efficiency and workplace productivity reign supreme. It relies on the quickness of information dissemination, the harmony between normal operating activities and administrative tasks, and providing key actors of an organization with the necessary tools to make smart and profitable decisions. Ultimately, it’s an industry that thrives off quick and fast-paced movements, wherein every second each person puts in counts.

And, as we’ve mentioned before, innovation does not equate to efficiency, and replacing a working system with an entirely new model will only create unnecessary bumps in the process. Sure, over time, a new system could play out as a competitive edge in their respective industry. Still, we can’t guarantee how long that takes, and we run the risk of competitors exceeding us during that period.

#2 Rise of Agricultural Biotechnology

On the other hand, we also have the agricultural biotechnology sector, a growing industry that allows farmers to scale their livelihoods and increase their total yield and output. In this industry, innovation is important because food is an essential need to our survival, and with the growing population, we’re going to need more of it. We can’t afford to stand idle and rely on traditional methods because we run the risk of not keeping up with our increasingly globalized world.

Therefore, all forms of innovation are a necessary step forward. From kinome profiling to Ai-powered plant monitoring technologies, anything that can improve the quality and quantity of the harvested food secures a bright future.

#3 Medicine and Healthcare

And, something more relevant today, we have the medicine and healthcare industry, a sector that constantly tinkers in innovation. Since we still suffer from the negative effects of the pandemic fallout, research and development are geared towards making a potent vaccine for the coronavirus and its strains. Likewise, because this imposes a significant health risk and no existing medicine can directly solve it, innovation is necessary.

Unlike a local restaurant that prides itself on a signature taste and method passed from generation to generation, the world of medicine is always proactive, moving forward, and making discoveries. Innovation in this industry guarantees our survival and increase the overall quality of life.

Reimagine Your Definition of Innovation

Overall, before you go off and say innovation is your business objective, reimagine your company’s needs and think twice about its application. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with imitating existing innovations, giving them your personal touch, and their robust applications into your business. So, don’t sweat the details because innovation isn’t the only solution out there.

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About author
Ellie Martin is founding trainer/coordinator for Startup Change Group. Her works have been featured on Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Girls in Tech, among others. You may connect with her on Twitter.
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