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Adopting innovations developed outside your organization

Adopting innovations developed outside your organization

Innovation is influenced by fashion trends. Lucidity, strategic thinking and rigorous analysis are valuable assets to avoid wasting a lot of time and energy.

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Businesses today are finding it nearly impossible to maintain their competitive standing by relying on internal resources alone. Technological advances constantly give rise to new innovations, and enormous progress in information and production systems have considerably accelerated the speed with which ideas are circulated and new products brought to market. Finally, the explosion of collaborative innovation networks on the web has unleashed entrepreneurial initiatives and created a proliferation of unprecedented opportunities. As a result, more and more companies are driven to identify and profitably adapt innovations developed outside their walls.

That being said, successfully adopting innovations developed outside the organization is no simple matter! How many companies have made huge investments in revolutionary information systems that work very well somewhere else, only to observe that these same systems fail to live up to expectations at home? How many products developed around imported technology have been dismal flops? How many management practices give rise to major disappointments despite their spectacular success at competing firms?

A few companies, however, such as Apple or Tesco, excel at picking up on new concepts and products developed by other organizations. Three essential nuggets of advice can be gleaned from their experience:

– Don’t be tempted by the latest fad, but assess the suitability of innovations according to their potential contribution to your strategic goals, rather than an absolute intrinsic value.

– Timing is everything. Selecting the “right innovation” is not enough. Choosing the right moment to make your move is just as important for achieving a good return on investment.

– Don’t underestimate the need to modify or build on innovations, because you can rarely plug them directly into your organization as is. Organizations must generally go through several adjustment phases to make imported innovations pay off.

Synthèse n°184a

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