Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. William Pollard

What is the difference between innovation and adaptation to the new frontier?

Are you a leader that loves the word “innovation”? It’s not a concept for the faint-hearted but the visionary, curious and charismatic leaders.

Where do we start in order to be truly innovative?  

Naturally, the starting point is to agree on the definition of innovation and classify it as the real “game changer”. Innovation refers to ideas that are able to be deployed to add economic, societal, and sustainable values to an organisation. This possibly distinguishes genuine innovation and tactical improvement.

The Nick Molnar, Steve Jobs, Branson, Bezos apex at the tip of the pyramid is generally rarefied air. Oxygen level is so thin for these visionaries that they simply don’t and didn’t see the world as many other business leaders do. In this case, it is undeniable that the spirit of an entrepreneur and an innovator are closely aligned. Their mindset is not to do stuff better per se – that’s tactical improvement.

If you accept that definition, rather than dreaming of a conceptual idea, you should consider what Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths Australia, said in a recent article:

“What I got to do there was sitting next to an entrepreneur and realising entrepreneurs see the world the way they want it to be, and the mental importance of thinking about the world the way you want it to be.”

That is the starting point of true innovation. Because even when you see the existing world moving faster and tactically different, yet still working within the boundaries already predetermined, that’s not going to foster true innovation.

Then we may ask “Is the advent of robotics in distribution centres especially innovative? Or are they smart adaptation? And is there a difference?”

In reality, what you often get is clever adaptation, the bright idea, the question that starts with “what if”. What if we did this differently? What if we created a different solution?

Although, thinking from the inverse, if you like, when you reshape the context, there comes true innovation.

The Nick Molnar’s Afterpay did not start, I presume, with how we adapt or speed up the actual process. Rather it started with the entrepreneurial question of “How could this be entirely different?”. And that question, which is on the lips of every innovator, is perhaps the simplest approach to innovation, and the most correct definition of what it is.