The Starting Point of the Innovative Journey

Finally, don’t try to innovate for the future. Innovate for the present! An innovation may have long-range impact; it may not reach its full maturity until twenty years later.

— Peter Drucker

In the beginning, the innovation process always starts with awareness – often as a rather unspecific understanding of a recognized symptom. Peter Drucker defines these symptoms in his book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” as sources that could lead to innovation. Peter Drucker elaborates on seven different sources for innovation.

Drucker's 7 sources for innovation

Drucker's 8th source for innovation

Drucker dedicates another chapter in his book to The Bright Idea, which also could lead to innovation. However, he clearly distinguishes it from the other seven sources. ROOM FOR IDEAS, however, considers The Bright Idea the 8th source for innovation. 

Setting course in the right direction

Opportunities, problems, or bright ideas are at the foundation of all innovation processes. Just being aware of them is still insufficient, though, to kick off the process. A clear understanding of the nature and specifics of the relevant source(s) is essential because they strongly affect the innovation process’s subsequent activities due to their different characteristics. A problem that arises from a series of unexpected events might require a very much different solution than a problem existing because of a change in demographics. This seems very much evident, but spending some effort on evaluating the sources in detail and doing deep thinking helps to set the course in the right direction. It helps to avoid inefficiencies, unnecessary iterations or even failure early on.

Map, provisions and first aid kit

The innovation process benefits from the right prerequisites for the trip. It is good to have a map and reading skills, but a more comprehensive range of skills is valuable. To understand the topic, how to shape business models, or to do scientific work is at the foundation. Still, skills in communication, creativity, problem solving or leadership are essential and often insufficiently regarded. 

The journey of innovation requires one further awareness which is paramount to understand right at the beginning. The innovative process comes with all kinds of pitfalls, obstacles and adversities in wide varieties at the least desired moment. To understand and to accept right on from the start that it will be a demanding, energy-draining and high volatility process full of potential conflict with times of unimaginable highs and frustrating lows is the right mindset to kick it off successfully. It requires a lot of energy, intrinsic motivation, resilience and grit to see it through to the end.