Innovation is commonly defined as “the introduction of something new” or “a new way of doing something”.  Many successful innovations improve on an existing product to make it faster, cheaper, or more efficient.  Other valuable innovations apply procedures and systems from one industry to another.

For example, Henry Ford is not credited with inventing the car nor did he invent the assembly line.  His innovation was to change the way cars were built by applying a moving assembly line (already in use in a different industry) to the automobile manufacturing process.  Thus, Ford’s innovation was the combination of an existing product (cars) with an existing procedure (the assembly line).  The moving assembly line developed by Henry Ford allowed individual workers to perform specific tasks while the vehicles moved along the assembly line, which greatly improved efficiency.  The moving assembly line reduced the time required to build each car, increased vehicle production levels and reduced the cost to manufacture each car.  Ford’s innovation of bringing the moving assembly line to the automotive industry allowed the company to sell more vehicles at a significantly lower cost, which distinguished it from other companies in the market that used less efficient manufacturing techniques.

Today’s Action Step:  Spend some time brainstorming about ways to innovate your business’ products or procedures.  Is there a particular unmet need in your market that your company can fill?  Are there procedures in other industries that can be adapted to your business to improve operations?  Write down your answers!