It has been said that this century is the one of innovation. But just what is innovation? Contrary to popular belief, and one of the reasons why so many get it so wrong, is that innovation is not about coming up with something new. Rather, it is about creatively making something of value. It isn’t an invention, it is about improving something, or some part of it, to create better value by using new ideas. Complex!
Perhaps the best way to understand innovation management is to see it as applied inventions. This means that you do come up with something new, but it is actually applying this that makes it an innovation. This is why it doesn’t have to be a new thing or item, but rather a new idea. And that is where psychology comes in.
Innovation and Psychology
Innovation is a highly psychological process from start to finish. It involves processing, problem solving, and brainstorming. It is about translating ideas into something actionable, so that value is created. Value can only be created if the psychology of the user is also understood, which is how it goes through the full psychological circle.
Innovation may be creative, but it is not creativity. This is because, with creativity, you simply come up with something and then think about its value. With innovation, you put the value central and that is a completely different approach. As such, it is a different psychological thought process.
A number of specific thought processes are involved with innovation. Those are:
- Practical applications
- User needs
- Business models
- Radical thinking
Clearly, some of those would not traditionally be defined as psychological elements. However, they are, because they require people to think about how they impact others.
But there is another huge psychological element involved in innovation, and this is the psychological element that causes so many failure. This element is the fact that people are resistant to change, and innovation cannot happen without change. Humans are predisposed to fight change. Change is risky, change means that the safe, comfortable zone you have built around yourself is under threat. People know that change can be for the better, but why fix what isn’t broken, even if it could function far better?
If you want to apply innovation to your organization, you have to be ready to change. And you will have to change everything. For instance, innovation doesn’t work if there is a strong hierarchy in which the bottom ladders of the organization are not listened to. Similarly, innovation won’t work unless there is a platform where everybody can exchange ideas at any time. The first step towards achieving innovation is to innovate your company culture, and that means a complete overhaul of your current processes, or significant change, in other words. From a psychological perspective, you are virtually doomed to fail. But if you manage it properly, innovate your approach to innovation management, in other words, the results could be amazing.