Innovation and invention have always been celebrated by companies. Since the ‘Mad Men’ era of advertising, buzzwords like “new and improved” have been staples, while in the last 20 years digital and tech companies have been desperate to get to market with version 1.0 or 2.0. The aim has always been to give customers something better or more exciting. Innovation can lead to big success.
Is all innovation a leap into the future?
If you look carefully at the products on offer, however, you’ll notice something interesting. A food company, for example, may offer an ‘improved recipe’ that isn’t necessarily innovative. Sometimes it’s a reaction to customer complaints about texture, size or taste. Recipes can be forced to change because preferred ingredients increase in price; supply chains can be hit by politics, global economics or even the weather, forcing food makers to take positive action or risk affecting production. You may have even noticed that the apps on your phone are constantly updated with suffixes like “v1.0.11” or “v2.2”.
These types of changes, updates and rethinks are usually done out of necessity and tend to keep companies on the defensive to make sure their products stay on the market and remain competitive. They show a company being reactive, not necessarily proactive as they’re not ground-breaking innovation, they’re more like necessary ad-hoc tweaks to solve unforeseen problems.
Innovation needs vision
Every good business knows you can’t simply release a product and then tinker with it forever; at some point a radical change based on modern thinking, new tech or evolving tastes will be needed. Sustainable, successful businesses need structured innovation.
Structured innovation can give companies an incredible competitive advantage over their rivals, but it means being proactive, reading the market, identifying gaps and opportunities and focussing on new thinking to have the first successful product on offer. It’s not a small challenge and companies need extremely capable and strong leaders to make it work.
Innovation-focussed leadership needs vision, clarity, strategy of execution and effective communication to ensure the product meets its requirements. Creating structures that allow people to be inventive and challenge long-standing habits or processes needs a steady hand that balances freedom and focus.
Companies that rely on innovation and new thinking need exceptional leadership more than ever, but how do you prove you have the skills? The University of York have created a Masters degree for that exact purpose.
You can now gain an MSc in Innovation, Leadership and Management from a prestigious Russell Group university thanks to a 100% online degree. As all learning materials are delivered online, you can study whenever and wherever it suits you, whether that’s on your lunch break or during evenings and weekends. This means you can keep your current role, apply what you learn and still keep your current pay grade without having to take an extended study break. Each section of the course is pay-per-module to remove large, upfront fees and there are even six start dates spread throughout the year, so you can begin whenever you’re ready.
Innovation is sometimes thought of as a flash of lightning that strikes without warning, but by learning and exercising skills such as effective communication, the ability to objectively approach problems while assessing and creating new solutions and taking charge of progression, you can display the kind of leadership skills that could not only provide a big boost to your career but could also literally enable your company to invent the next big thing.