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The Innovation buzzword

Also published in Law Institute Journal October 2015 89 (10) p78

IN an ever changing profession it is vital for leaders to be open to new trends and market conditions.

There is an increasing urgency to innovate in a complex and changing environment. Indeed, the new digital-Darwinism cry for businesses is “innovate or die”. But what is innovation?

Innovation in business can mean implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products or improving existing services – and is often seen as this. Yet it can also mean changing or creating better and more effective products and services, improving systems and processes, applying new uses of technology, better meeting changing customer demands or implementing ideas that meet market needs. Innovation can mean changing the firm’s business model and adapting to changes in the environment to deliver better products or services.

Innovation versus creativity

Is innovation the same as creativity? No. Creativity is about coming up with new ideas. Innovation adds executing the ideas, that is, converting the ideas into value with successful business outcomes.

Why innovate?

Innovation can be a catalyst for growth and success of a business and can help a business adapt and expand. With a focus on innovation, all staff work towards better business practices and improving work efficiency, productivity and performance. As well as services and products, innovation can benefit all aspects of business including sales and marketing, finance, human resources and information technology – in both small and large ways.

Benefits for business include:

  • increased competitiveness – the business is more efficient and productive with lower costs and higher quality;

  • improved staff retention – staff like to work in innovative and challenging jobs that promote team work and problem solving;

  • a more agile, proactive approach – the business model is continually matching changing conditions; and

  • greater customer satisfaction – new and improved services and products, and new markets.

Key steps to business innovation include:

  • analysing the market environment, customers and competitors;

  • building a culture that is open to new ideas and adaptive to change;

  • developing a strategic, responsive plan, with innovation as a key process;

  • driving innovation with inspiring and motivating leadership and empowered employees;

  • connecting with customers and employees to generate ideas;

  • persisting in implementation; and

  • ensuring the business spends time on executing the ideas.

As Edison said, genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration and it is vital to ensure that the business invests the time in executing the ideas.

With innovation as a competitive advantage, the adapted business both survives and thrives in the new and changing environment.

Judith Bennett is a lawyer, coach and business adviser for the legal profession at

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