Management of Innovation a source of sustainable competitive advantage

By Dr Dzingai Katsamba

A plethora of innovation myths have been created to block innovative ideas, restricting organisational management and its employees from being creative and thinking outside of the box. Myths such as not all persons having the ability to identify a good idea, or that not all ideas are good are adopted by organisations and this is the main reason why organisations fail to innovate. The major challenge however is the clear distinction between innovation and management of innovation.

Some organisations have benefitted due to this way of thinking, innovative organisations introduce products and services that might have previously been identified but never introduced into the market, organisations that take the calculated chance are the ones that succeed –  without risk there is no reward.

Innovation is often associated with the introduction of new products or services within a business, but it can also be about changing the way you do business, looking at what is current and how it can be improved upon, small system changes or varied product offerings. Service improvements can also be seen as being innovative and will also contribute towards the success of organisations.

The main question for an organisation is to innovate or not to innovate? If an organisation chooses to innovate and makes innovation part of their business strategy, a significant amount of success can be achieved. Innovation plays a critical role within organisations, due to the culture of creativity it creates and the way that innovation affords employees the opportunity to constantly be seeking improvement.

Any organisation can purport about innovation and being innovative but how organisations manage innovation is critical to this. The management of innovation is where the problem often lies, as few organisations have structures in place to stimulate the generation of ideas, capture the ideas, refine the ideas, develop the good ideas, test the ideas, commercialise and offer services or products to the markets. The worst that could happen is to think that only leaders of the company have the capacity to generate ideas. This is where management of innovation is dying in its infancy. For companies to achieve a sustainable source of competitive advantage they must be good at the management of innovation and not just knowing innovation.