Innovation. It's become a buzzword across all sectors of business. We are all familiar with it, but unfortunately we rarely embrace it as a necessity in our work roles. It's all too common for already successful companies to become complacent and to rely too heavily on evolving from existing platforms. As Rafael Colorado points out, it is this "tyranny of success" that allows successful enterprises to not only keep from improving but to even fall out of favor with their customers.
Colorado, a graduate of UIUC's Master of Tax program and the holder of two approved and three pending patents, consistently uses his expertise in Innovation Management in his role as Global Director of Product and Strategy for Motorola Mobile Devices. He utilized his own work experiences to illustrate the importance of innovation while serving as the featured speaker at the Innovation Management Roundtable, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and held at the Illini Center on September 19th. Attendees were asked to find the common threads among the examples' "business as usual" solutions, as well as among the truly innovative solutions.
Business as usual tends to involve taking the simple path, such as reducing cost or repositioning. In this mode, we also mistakenly have a tendency to gravitate toward glamorous solutions and blame elements that are out of our control.
True innovation, on the other hand, is marked by the following: building an ecosystem, i.e., knowing who all the players are; being true to your target segment; focusing on performance for this segment; having low short-term expectations; understanding the technology and remembering that innovation comes mainly from people who are close to the product.
Another element essential to innovation is a process. "Each innovation structure requires a process," states Colorado. "This enables you to capture, measure and fund ideas in a way that is relevant to the company." Although different companies will have different processes to promote innovation, all of them should involve investigation, evaluation and execution.
Contrary to popular opinion, Colorado humorously notes that everything innovative need not be brand new. "Innovation also involves identifying good things already out there because you're not going to invent everything."
To keep his own company focused on innovation, Colorado has developed a set of "Innovation Commandments" to adhere to when tackling this vital task. Roundtable attendees were fortunate to learn these directives and to see how they have been utilized in real situations, in order to apply the ideas to development and problem solving at their own companies.
The commandments include to agree on a process and follow it but remain flexible; to be open to innovations that don't involve revolutionary changes; and to be aware that technology evolves faster than the rate of absorption by consumers. And Colorado highlights the number one Innovation Commandment when he states, "Business as usual cannot be projected in the future. Innovation is not optional."
Please join us for the next Roundtable in this series, which will focus on Business Leadership. The session will be held on Thursday October 25th, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., at the Illini Center, 200 S. Wacker Drive, 4th Floor. If you have questions about this or other upcoming Roundtables, please contact External & Alumni Affairs at (217) 244-6669.
The College of Business 2007-2008 Roundtable Series, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, kicked off on September 19 with an Innovation Management Roundtable held in Chicago. The series runs through May 21, with lecture presentations held in Chicago. It is designed to enhance professional development and cultivate a regional network among working professionals, faculty and alumni.
Additional sessions in the Roundtable Series include:
- October 25, Business Leadership, featuring Avy Stein
- November 14, Accountancy
- January 16, Twenty-Something Leaders in Business
- February 13, Deep Dive Workshop
- April 9, Finance
- May 21, Women in Business
For more information on upcoming and past presentations, visit: www.business.uiuc.edu/alumni/roundtable