Aligning innovation with useful business strategy

Ever since the USA and USSR began the Space Race in the 1950’s, it’s felt like the future has been hurtling towards us, but most predictions of life in the future have been very wrong! For every 1980’s kid still waiting for their predicted hoverboard, there’s another corresponding underestimation – such as IBM saying the world only needs a maximum of five computers, or that future computers could weigh as little as 1.5 tons.

This doesn’t mean businesses should simply wait for the future to arrive. The incredible pace at which computing, processing power and data compression have progressed has created opportunities for thousands of businesses to build, evolve and innovate products of their own. Innovation is now its own highly prized and sought after discipline.

Finding the next ‘big thing’

Businesses always want to be first to market, but nobody predicted mobile phones, let alone the iPhone – which was once branded ‘pointless’ as it had no physical QWERTY keyboard. Research and development is a way of predicting the future for companies; an integral part with the potential to create incredible success.

R&D isn’t interchangeable with innovation, however. Innovation is an individual discipline and a key business differentiator, supported by recent research that the companies who are the most innovative aren’t the ones that spend the greatest sums on R&D. Innovation is more about fresh and exciting thinking as opposed to incremental technical improvement – put simply, it’s an iPhone when compared to a slightly faster Blackberry emailer.

Innovation as a mindset

Companies that seek to be innovative need creativity. The ability to not only identify a problem that isn’t widely recognised, overcome physical or technical barriers with fresh thinking and critically evaluate potential solutions is exactly the kind of capability that can make a small company a world-beater. This isn’t to say that R&D isn’t valuable, but it takes an innovative mindset to apply their principles and what’s technically possible in a unique, new and disruptive manner.

The companies who score highly as ‘innovative’ whilst not giving over large percentages of turnover to R&D all share a few capabilities; taking a big picture approach to solving the problem is key and through collaboration, fresh design thinking, creative problem solving and even instilling ‘innovation’ as part of the company culture all make for an agile company.

The University of York and its world-class academics have created a 100% online MSc in Innovation, Leadership and Management to directly address the challenges faced by modern businesses today and to help meet their requirements. It covers key competencies such as effective communication and a critical approach to problem solving and enables you to study in your spare time, anywhere you like – meaning you don’t need to take a costly career break and can apply what you learn to your current role, proving your value to your employer. We’ve also made every section pay-per-module to remove the burden of large, up-front payments.

Businesses greatly value the ability to be innovative and are treating it as one of the basics of company culture; technology firms in particular don’t just want minor progress, they’re looking for something new, fresh, exciting and radical. Making changes and having innovation as a mindset proves that it’s a teachable skill that can be honed and perfected. The ability to demonstrate these very skills through a prestigious Russell Group Masters degree could be the very thing to boost your career!

To find out more and begin your application, simply click here.