Question: What defines innovation and what can I do to promote innovative thinking in my business?

A collaborative survey of innovative products and services conducted over a five-year period identified key underpinnings of an innovative business culture (see These were:


  • Have a clear mission that all employees understand and support.
  • Constantly reinforce the importance of innovation, design and creativity.
  • Ensure that a culture of trust and respect pervades the entire organization.
  • Celebrate success and provide support in failure.
  • Give people the freedom to perform against stretching goals.
  • Develop people to meet the needs of the organization.
  • Reward and recognize talent and commitment.


  • Have a formal or informal system for encouraging and capturing all ideas.
  • Extend the company’s team structure to external partners.
  • Ensure senior management adopts a “hands-ready” support role.
  • Manage risk effectively on a progressive basis.
  • Ensure intellectual property and competitive advantage are well-managed.
  • Effectively manage the financing of innovation.


  • Have a well-managed process for staying close to customers and markets.
  • Regularly review markets and competitors to seek competitive advantage.
  • Turn regulation and legislation to business advantage.
  • Fully exploit the potential of the Internet and e-business for communicating with customers.
  • Always compete from a position of strength with distinctive innovation.
  • Ensure the value chain is constantly under review.

The London Innovation organization also listed their top-10 tips for introducing innovation and creativity into a business. These include:

  • Turn dissatisfaction or frustration with an existing product or service into a new idea.
  • Ask customers (existing and potential) what they want and don’t want.
  • Be restless, outward looking and unreasonable.
  • Do not let the cynics get to you, especially those who “know” why your idea will not work.
  • Capitalize on your inexperience by thinking without constraints and out of the box.
  • Be passionate and have faith in your product.
  • Let threats to your business drive your innovation.
  • Use the knowledge in universities and research institutions to help you innovate.
  • Utilize business networks to exchange ideas with other businesses and partners.
  • Learn to expect failure on the way to success.

Source : OrlandoSentinel, here.