Why an understanding of business and leadership is essential to innovation

The first computer systems were simply a way of performing complicated mathematical problems more quickly. This means they were primarily of interest to international businesses or university technical departments, and computers weren’t seen as something that would one day become a huge industry in their own right or be relied upon by billions every single day.

This was the case until the first generation of tech whizz kids turned up. We’re all familiar with names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who founded some of the biggest and most profitable companies on the planet, but the early days of these companies weren’t smooth sailing. Microsoft had multiple problems in the beginning and Apple was in danger of folding before their first commercial success. While these tech pioneers had fantastic ideas, technical knowledge and vision, they still hit many hurdles before they made a profit.

New frontiers, same story

Fast forward to today and the pattern has been repeated over and over. Visionaries of the DotCom boom and subsequent bust have struggled to make sustainable, profitable companies. Even Twitter, one of the most widespread social media platforms in the world, still struggles in the business world to replicate the profitability seen by many of its rivals.

This is why in order to make technological innovation successful, it’s vital to have an understanding of the business environment in which it will function and the leadership skills that will be required to bring the concept to life. When you’re designing a new product or service, knowing where it will fit into the wider business landscape, how it will generate revenue and the mechanics of things like taxes and reporting are extremely helpful. In the past, companies have relied on third parties for this expertise, but when it comes to technological innovation, it’s not always so simple.

Keeping the concept on track

When a new product is truly innovative, it can be tricky to fully explain its purpose during the planning stages. Using third party help may force you to follow existing avenues of business planning, which either mimic somebody else’s processes or simply aren’t right for the product being developed. This is where an understanding of the business environment and leadership skills are essential – not only does the innovator need an understanding of business environments, but they also need the leadership qualities and communication skills to ensure that the project stays on track.

This is one of the reasons the University of York has created an online MSc in Leadership and Management specifically focussed on innovation, to help aspiring leaders meet these challenges. By concentrating on the core skills of leadership, such as effective communication, objective approaches to problem-solving and strategic thinking, it greatly increases the chance of bringing new ideas and concepts to fruition.

As all learning materials are delivered entirely online, it allows you to study whenever it suits you, offering a prestigious Russell Group university degree with more flexibility. Being able to study in your spare time means you can gain valuable skills and experience without having to take an extended break from your work projects and risk another company or startup beating you to it! It also means that you can apply what you learn as you progress, potentially helping to avoid the problems that have hindered other innovative companies in their early days.

Each course features the option to pay-per-module, removing the burden of large, up-front payments. There are six start dates throughout the year, so you can begin whenever you’re ready.

The pace of technological evolution has increased dramatically in the last few decades. Products and services like the smartphone and social media have become popular beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. It’s difficult to predict where the next technological leap will come from, but with the right skills and qualifications, the tricky transition from concept to launch could become much more simple.

Find out more and begin your application