What Does Innovation Look Like to You?

So you don’t need to be convinced of the essential role of innovation in fueling organizational growth. Perhaps you have a history of successful product or market development through innovation. But do you know what kind of innovator you are?

Each year, Booz & Company conducts their Global Innovation 1000 study to identify the most innovative firms in the world. They have done the best job I’ve seen of describing three distinct innovation styles, or cultures, if you will. As you read these descriptions, you will likely be able to identify where your capabilities fall.

  • Need Seekers—actively and directly engage current and potential customers to shape new products and services based on superior end-user understanding, and strive to be the first to market with these new offerings.
  • Market Readers—watch their customers and competitors carefully, focusing largely on creating value through incremental change and by capitalizing on proven market trends.
  • Technology Drivers—follow the direction suggested by their technological capabilities, leveraging their investment in research and development to drive both breakthrough innovation and incremental change, often seeking to solve the unarticulated needs of their customers via new technology.

Why is this information important? If you’re expecting me to tell you it’s because one approach is better than the others, that’s not going to happen. Year after year, the study finds no statistical or financial advantage for one style of innovation over another. The importance lies in understanding that you have a distinct approach, focusing on perfecting that process, and not expending energy and resources pursuing a style that doesn’t suit your capabilities.