Everyone is afraid of change – at least a little. Change in our personal lives, change in the world and change in business all come with potential risks and rewards. A little fear is a good thing, however, as it keeps us on our toes.

How do you transform an opportunity into an idea?

It is quite common for innovators – those firms which are first to commercialize a new product or process in the market – to lament the fact that competitors/imitators have profited more from the innovation than the firm first to commercialize it! Since it is often held that being first to market is a source of strategic advantage, the clear existence and persistence of this phenomenon may appear perplexing if not troubling. The aim of this article is to explain why a fast second or even a slow third might outperform the innovator. The message is particularly pertinent to those science and engineering driven companies that harbor the mistaken illusion that developing new products which meet customer needs will ensure fabulous success. It may possibly do so for the product, but not for the innovator.

Well, the first thing is to get comfortable with the belief that any old ideas won’t do. What we’re interested in are disruptive ideas; that is, ideas with the power for great impact and influence.

So you’ve identified and described an opportunity. Now, it’s time to develop the ideas to support it. You’ll start by breaking down your opportunity into a number of parts and examining each one in a new way. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get to all of them. The main point is to focus your creativity.

An opportunity has three distinct parts: There’s an opportunity to provide [who?] with [what advantage that fills what gap? The abilities to understand and act on changes rapidly in our environments and changes in human behavior are becoming crucial skills we are still developing and refining. Design Thinking offers a means for grappling with all this change in a more human-centric manner. In order to embrace Design Thinking and innovation, we need to ensure that we have the right mindsets, collaborative teams, and conducive environments.

Ideas are very easy to come by—operationalizing ideas is hard. And yet, that is where true innovation is born. The ability to adopt, operationalize, and iterate continuously with the end goal of increasing relevancy to respond to changing economic, technological, and cultural conditions is not an overnight exercise.  Innovation shouldn’t be looked at as just a customer-facing issue; it should be practiced internally as well.

In the modern age, adopting new technologies to improve how a company operates is no longer optional- it is a baseline requirement for all companies to be able to function well. How can your business become more innovative? One of the first things you need to consider is investing in your capacity to innovate. In other words, you should invest in things that enable you to constantly improve your products and services, and how you produce them. An investment in information and communication technology is a good place to start.

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