1.1.1 Innovation - Introduction

All the man-made changes that the world has witnessed are a result of this tendency to look for something new and different. The desire to try something else is a prominent human characteristic. There is no end to the new ideas in the world, but when these ideas create value, it becomes innovation.1 Good ideas are of no use unless they are implemented.

Chester Carlson invented the xerographic process in 1938. A copy machine was revealed in 1948, but it took another decade while innovators from Haloid-Xerox delivered a practical rotary-drum office copier.

From time to time, innovation is done by taking an existing idea, concept or product and improving it. However what is more remarkable is to be able to think beyond what already exists, and coming up with a brand new concept. Why is innovation demanding so much attention in our days? Because the pace of change is increasing rapidly. The world is shifting from an industrial age to a knowledge age. In the continuously changing global environment, strategic advantage can only come from being leaders rather than followers of change, and the only way that firms can be leaders of change is through innovation.

All firms need to be innovative, as innovation is the lifeblood of future revenue streams.2 The reality however is that most companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), find it difficult to understand what innovation is, how innovation can be effectively managed and, that innovation is not an issue only for high-tech industries. Any individual, any company, in any industry, can be innovative. Innovation is a process, not a destination.

There are many theories on innovation subject - what is innovation; what are the main innovation characteristics and types; how innovation can be managed, etc. The world has not yet (and possibly never will) come up with one unique innovation theory.

1 ezinearticles.com;   2 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 1.3 Characteristics and types of Innovations. 2005