Innovation

All posts tagged Innovation

Technological Innovations

Published March 27, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Burgelman, et. al, define technology as the theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, and artifacts that can be used to develop products and services as well as their production and delivery systems. It can be embodied in people, materials, cognitive and physical processes, plant, equipment and tools (Burgelman, Christensen, & Sheelwright, 2004). Advances in technology have presented opportunities for organizations to evolve in productive and innovative ways.  For example, when the mortgage crisis hit the nation in 2008, the mortgage and loan company I was employed at for nearly a decade, suffered bankruptcy and shut down. However, because of high speed internet and the ability to share documents, my former colleagues, with whom I have established trustful working relationships, have found a way to continue to work together in a virtual environment.

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According to Tidd and Bessant, innovation is driven by the ability to see connections, to spot opportunities and to take advantage of them offering new ways of serving established and mature markets (Tidd & Bessant, 2009).  In addition, because of advances in technology, more entrepreneurs are hosting webinars as a means to connect with potential clients. Advances in electronics and internet access have opened opportunities for people with electronic devices to attend informative and training classes online (some free of charge) for various reasons that include: career advancement, self-help and healing purposes; and educational training. The advantage to webinar hosts is an opportunity to reach out to consumers, build their clientele list, and open an opportunity to sell their products or encourage people to sign up for future classes and training courses.

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Other innovations and advances in technology now allow entrepreneurs to produce their own products at a fraction of the price. For instance, with the rise in popularity of tablets and notebooks, EBooks have become a more popular format in book sales because it offers consumers their favorite literature at more affordable prices. Individuals who own desktop publishing software for example, can now write and produce their own EBook merely by opening a file, laying out the design, pouring in the text and formatting, then doing a “save as” in an electronic device format. It has never been easier to produce a book! Innovations in technology have given entrepreneurs more tools to help grow their businesses.

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References:

Burgelman , R., Christensen, C., & Sheelwright, S. (2004). Strategic management of technology and innovation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin Publishing.

Tidd, J., & Bessant, J. (2009). Managing innovation: Integrating technological, market and organizational change. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Innovative Challenges

Published March 4, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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New innovations continue to help industries evolve. As a result many organizations now operate in an entirely new fashion.  For instance, innovations in technology have changed the face of the education industry dramatically. Fifteen years ago the traditional brick and mortar school setting was the standard format for public education and universities nationwide. Now because of technological advances in electronic communication, an increasingly popular method of education and training is delivered in real time, from accredited learning institutions, in a virtual classroom environment.  Students are now able to pursue their education through a scholastic virtual medium beginning in elementary school and extending through college. This is ideal for students with special skills and needs, or those who excel in an environment that supports working at an individual’s natural pace. More families are turning to online education. Virtual organizations support these families with activities, clubs and other social events for families in the academic community. In addition, Clark & Kwinn (2007) purport organizations that participate in workforce learning, save on travel costs and keep employees from having to take time away from work (Clark & Kwinn, 2007).

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Caulfield (2011) identifies three types of learning in the higher education environment. They include: (a) technology enhanced courses – where students meet face to face with instructors in a traditional classroom setting, adding technological components as part of the learning experience; (b) hybrid courses that consist of reduced face-time courses outside the brick and mortar setting; and (c) blended programs that integrate both models with focus on outcome-based practice.  Virtual classrooms that incorporate tools like Blackboard offer real time instructor-student interface for instant feedback in both audio and video format from remote locations (Caulfield, 2011).

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Innovations in education present families with more options for academic pursuits. For example, the public school setting is restrictive for some children that display high levels of intellect at an early age. A first grader who reads at fifth grade level is not challenged by traditional public school curriculum. Parents are forced to think outside the box for solutions so children can excel academically, especially those without the support to enroll them into private schools. Innovations in technology allow families to enroll in accredited charter online schools like K12 that offer superior levels of education where children can work at their own pace. Additionally, advances in education also allow individuals to seek higher levels of education with reputable institutions like Ashford University in a virtual environment. In conclusion, many families have become liberated in the field of education because of the innovations in new technologies.

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References:

Caulfield, J. (2011). How to design and teach a hybrid course. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Clark, R., & Kwinn, A. (2007). The new virtual classroom: Evidence-based guidelines for synchronous e-learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Entrepreneurial Culture

Published February 27, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Research reveals that more and more companies are embracing an entrepreneurial culture in the innovation process within their organizations. Firms have begun to comprehend that the nature of innovation is transforming the workplace and have developed policies to accommodate this paradigm shift.  The field of innovation now expands beyond the traditional arenas of science and technology.  Organizations have done this by instigating innovation in ways that also address new components to include: 1) co-creation, 2) user involvement, and 3) environmental and social challenges (Prahalad, 2010). The Lego Corporation, for example has emerged as a company that incorporates a visible entrepreneurial culture.

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In 2006, innovators at Lego decided to involve users in the early stages of the development process for the next generation of a popular product called Mindstorms.  They picked four advanced users from an online community to help develop new features. This strategic union between users and non-users from the in-house production staff turned out to be quite successful and a contribution to Lego’s culture toward a better organizational experience. The experience and insight users offered were a valuable asset for the engineers who could now develop a new product directly with the feedback of the operators. It was so successful, they eventually became a part of the Lego Innovation team and the new version of Mindstorms NXT went on to garner two achievement awards within the first few months of its release. MacDonald (2008) purports that working for a huge corporation can hinder productivity due to the bureaucratic nature.  In other words there is less freedom to engage in creativity that can help individuals fully realize their potential (MacDonald, 2008, pp. 4-6). The Lego corporation has found a way to break some of these bureaucratic barriers by incorporating innovative entrepreneurial techniques.

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Economic crisis and high unemployment rates forced some out of the world of bureaumania and into the world of entrepreneurship. It forced some individuals to find solutions outside the box for employment. For example, one person began offering marketing and social media production services to a select corporate executives as an independent contractor.  The venture is still in the infancy stages as they continue to learn from their experiences and work out the bugs from the structures that hinder the process which include the expansion of a client base and the resources to support it. Badal (2013) suggests that creating the right environment which includes: (a) being open to risk, (b) developing trusting relationships, (c) building skills and knowledge, (d) offering support, (e) obtaining access to resources, (f) maintaining a supportive organizational structure, and (g) setting realistic goals, is pivotal for the innovation process that is emerging in the entrepreneurial sector (Badal, 2013).

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References:

Badal, S. (2013). Building corporate entrepreneurship is hard work. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from Gallup Business Journal: http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/157604/building-corporate-entrepreneurship-hard-work.aspx

MacDonald, R. (2008). Beat the system: 11 secrets to building an entrepreneurial culture in a bureaucratic world. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Prahalad, C. K. (2010). The new nature of innovation. Ann Arbor, MI: OECD.

Creative Disruption

Published February 25, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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There are many things that can impact creativity in the entrepreneurial process within the workforce of an organization. Echeverria (2012) postulates that there is nothing more challenging for a leader than managing creativity effectively to assist with breakthroughs and the delivery process of new innovations. Idea agents require support and freedom in the creative process. Effective leaders support innovators by: (a) providing authentic leadership that inspires and motivates individuals to perform at optimum levels, (b) understanding and identifying the idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses of creative personalities, (c) letting innovative individuals take flight, encouraging them to keep in alignment with the organization’s interests, and (d) creating a clear configuration of structure that liberates the creative spirit and nurtures a culture of empowerment (Echeverria, 2012).

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Simon (2010) contends that another component that can disrupt the creative process are the entrepreneurs who have concerns about technological innovations that may eliminate the need for certain skills; replace workers; and require training on new systems. For example, because of technological advances a small restaurant can attract new clients without a marketing budget through the internet; an iPad case manufacturer can generate over $1 million in profits in just a few months with only a handful of employees; or a voice over company can connect artists with opportunities without expensive hardware and software (Simon, 2010). These are new frontiers that can prohibit adaptation to change.

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Although new innovations may be disruptive and cause alarm for some entrepreneurs, the most successful ones recognize new challenges as opportunities for growth.  This is the mindset and focus of an effective entrepreneurially managed firm. A trailblazing entrepreneur uses opportunity: (a) as a stimulating agent to address challenges, (b) to find resourceful adaptations and solutions, and (c) to discover the best way to capitalize on it (Bygrave & Zacharakis, 2010). This entrepreneurial philosophy is in alignment with the kind of corporate entrepreneurship that encourages associates with innovative ideas like Apple’s Steve Wozniack and Disney’s Don Bluth to remain within an organization rather than branch out to create competition. Corporate entrepreneurship support is fundamental.  With the aid of incentives and rewards, trailblazers are encouraged to pursue innovative ideas as well as participate in the creative and decision making process. This strategy can be beneficial and a profitable experience for both the entrepreneurial innovator and the organization.

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References:

Bygrave, W., & Zacharakis, A. (2010). Entrepreneurship. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Echeverria, L. (2012). Idea agent: Leadership that liberates creativity. New York, NY: AMACOM Publishing.

Simon, P. (2010). The new small: How a new breed of small businesses is harnessing the power of emerging technologies. Henderson, NV: Motion Publishing.