August 14, 2020
0 min read

Innovation: How fast are you failing?

Innovation: How fast are you failing?.jpeg

The Czech novelist Milan Kundera wryly observed that business has only two functions - Marketing and Innovation. And everyone loves to talk about innovation. The term is bandied about so frequently that it has unfortunately become somewhat meaningless. Perhaps some of the trouble might originate from the general nature of the term. It is all too often confused with invention but innovation builds on something established. The Oxford dictionary notes that to innovate is to "make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products". It follows that the scope for innovation is almost infinite in every corporate setting. Being ‘creative’ is often associated with innovation; nevertheless, I enjoy the distinction made by the former Harvard professor Theodore Levitt who noted that "Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things".

However, before doing new things and in order to innovate effectively, you must spot a market gap or a potential improvement in an existing product offering or process (read as 'make it better'). Unfortunately, the cross-functional organisational setup and cultural shift required to drive innovation is rarely promoted effectively in corporate environments. After all, constant innovation disrupts the existing conditions and there is a mountain of evidence confirming that we humans are huge fans of maintaining the status quo, unless there is an extremely obvious benefit to change. So executives are challenged with the double-edged sword of not only delivering innovation but also nurturing an innovative culture, which is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges for the leadership in a corporate setting.  

Corporate innovation (not an oxymoron) is something of a new concept in this space and has gained traction in recent years as many firms have created their own innovation labs, hackathons, intrapreneurial initiatives etc. Much of this would appear to be a reaction to the speed at which start-ups and digitalisation are threatening existing products and revenue streams. However, it should be noted that this current fad is really nothing new. I recently read an article in Time Magazine from 1985, advocating intrapreneurship, that was completely in line with the current trend. Famously, much of the work done at 3M in the late 1970s was effectively promoting a start-up culture within the mothership organisation. That investment certainly paid dividends as it led to the development of the Post-it note in 1980, which in a twist of fate became central to agile software development methods. 

And yet so much innovation ends in failure, that it has almost become a badge of honour to fail. Of course, there is nothing wrong with failure. But failing fast is extremely different than failing after investing months or years into a project or activity. In an excellent talk on the topic, Diana Kander observed that we have to stop teaching innovators to be fortune tellers who can predict the future and rather focus on teaching them to be detectives who use facts and evidence to back up their assertions on how customers will behave. What might sound reasonable in a boardroom pitch, may well fall flat when it hits the market, so failing fast saves time, money and effort. If you believe your new product or improvement will be successful, then test the market with paying customers early before moving forward. Likewise, limit the extent to which you put new processes into action in order to prove their value before committing to their implementation.

I don't believe that there is an easy answer or quick fix to delivering innovation in a corporate context as it requires a cultural shift and redesign of the organisational setup to be effective. However, the current efforts by many organisations to propagate a more innovative spirit should be applauded as I believe this creates a more enjoyable working environment. Let's use the power of agile development techniques to focus on creating the conditions that allow cross-functional teams to deliver and fail fast as this should engender a dynamic and fun work environment that might just unlock the door to successful innovation. How fast are you failing?

Learn more from our insights

June 20, 2024

Generative AI used for data conversions and reformatting

How to use generative AI for data conversion, addressing integrity, hallucinations, privacy, and compliance issues with effective validation and monitoring strategies.

DALL·E 2024-05-30 09.37.01 - An illustration suitable for an article about ISO 20022. The scene should feature a modern, sleek representation of the ISO 20022 logo in the center. .webp
May 28, 2024

ISO 20022 Explained: A Comprehensive Guide for Financial Institution Managers

What is ISO 20022? How does it affect companies and institutions in the fintech and banking industry and how to prepare for its adoption? All explained in this article.

DALL·E 2024-05-22 20.55.08 - A detailed and high-quality DSLR photo of a person using a laptop to shop online, showing personalized product recommendations on the screen. The back.webp
May 16, 2024

Key AI Trends in E-commerce and Overview of AI integrations for E-commerce Platforms in 2024

Transform your e-commerce platform with AI tools for personalization, analytics, chatbots, search, and fraud detection. Boost sales and improve customer experiences.

eIDAS mark.png
May 09, 2024

Digital Identity and Payment Services in the EU in 2024: Key Updates

eIDAS 2.0 and PSD3 are set to enhance how digital identities and payment services are managed across the European Union in 2024. Here’s an overview of how each framework contributes to the digital landscape of the EU, what to expect, and how to prepare.

eIDAS 2 in fintech and open banking EU market.png
May 06, 2024

What is eIDAS 2.0 and EU Digital Identity Wallet and how will it change the EU digital market

Learn how eIDAS 2.0 and the EU Digital Identity Wallet will transform digital transactions and identity management across the European Union.

best large language models for ERP systems.png
March 31, 2024

Language Models Best Suited for Integration into ERPs

Four prominent large language models stand out for their compatibility and effectiveness in ERP system processes and automation. See what they are.

PSD3 in open banking Blocshop.png
April 23, 2024

PSD2 vs. PSD3: The Evolution of Payment Services Regulation

What is PSD3 in open banking? See how PSD3 compares to PSD2 and what should banks and fintech businesses do to ensure regulatory compliance in the EU market.

April 14, 2024

Enhancing ERP Systems with AI Chatbots

Explore how AI chatbots can transform ERP systems, enhancing efficiency, decision-making, and user interaction.

eIDAS in fintech and open banking EU market.png
April 29, 2024

eIDAS: The regulation helping secure Europe's digital future

See how eIDAS enhances EU digital transactions with secure identity verification, supporting e-commerce and public services across Europe.

hybrid ERPs.png
March 21, 2024

Hybrid ERP: An Innovative Approach to Enterprise Resource Planning

Hybrid ERP is a blend of cloud and on-premise solutions. With expertise in both, Blocshop is uniquely positioned to help you with hybrid ERP development and implementation.

0-4 cover.png
October 03, 2023

IT Staffing: Individual Hiring vs. Specialized Developer Teams

Should you hire individual developers or go for a specialized, custom-built developer team?

July 17, 2023

ChatGPT-3.5: An Overview and Limitations

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the capabilities and limitations of ChatGPT-3.5, providing you with a comprehensive overview of what it can do and what its boundaries are. So, let's delve into the inner workings of this large language model.

gpt4 vs gpt3-5 and the key differnces.png
June 15, 2023

A Deep Dive into GPT-4 vs GPT-3.5 Differences and Ability to Revolutionize Software Development

There are key differences between ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4 that software developers and companies procuring software solutions alike should be aware of. Let's see how these differences affect the output generated by these models on specific examples.

May 09, 2023

AI-powered software development: What CTOs need to know in 2023

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace in 2023 and beyond, CTOs must stay ahead of the curve by utilizing predictive analytics, automated testing processes, and deployment solutions.

May 05, 2023

How Artificial Intelligence is changing web development

AI technology is now being used in many different industries, including web development. It’s important to understand the impact that AI can have on web development as it can help companies to create more efficient and user-friendly websites.

May 05, 2023

How AI-powered software development is changing the role of the CTO

As AI-powered software development becomes increasingly commonplace, CTOs must prepare themselves to take on a new set of responsibilities that require more than just technical know-how.

April 17, 2023

How to build a minimum viable product (MVP)

The MVP is the version of a new product that allows Blocshop and your team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort. The essence of your core idea is delivered as a barebones solution. The solutions is, however, sufficient for usage by early adopters. As a product, it has tangible qulities that express a look and feel.

March 21, 2023

10 AI tools for developers you should know about in 2023

For developers, programmers, and data scientists, AI coding solutions can free up thinking time, allowing such professionals to focus on the fundamentals of their projects, and complete such projects much faster.

February 14, 2023

17 Ideas for Web Apps in 2023

Gazillions of web apps and ideas for web apps are floating around the metaverse - so creating one that properly represents a unique brand is a huge challenge. Our list provides a number of areas of simple app ideas to help businesses transform their online presence through a web app.

Top 15 micro-SaaS ideas for your startup in 2023.png
December 06, 2021

Top 15 micro-SaaS ideas for your startup in 2022

What exactly do we mean by micro SaaS? Micro Saas solutions use a web browser or mobile app interface. Micro SaaS solutions usually come about through the effort of an individual or very small team. It aims to solve precise problems. Micro SaaS projects have small budgets and overhead. Customers use Micro SaaS solutions on a monthly or yearly subscription basis. Micro SaaS projects target a small niche of the consumer market.