Have you ever wondered where great ideas come from? If your company has ever stalled for the lack of innovation, then you’ve probably thought about it from time to time. Innovative ideas can come from nothing, or from a long process of brainstorming and debate, but it always seems like some industries are consistently coming out with the best new products and processes, while others lag far behind. This isn’t your imagination; some industries are moving much more quickly than others. But which industries are the most innovative, and what sets them apart?
For many years, companies were convinced of the competitive advantage of closed research and development. They jealously protected their intellectual property behind closed doors and dramatically revealed it to the public after years of development. This old model has since been replaced by open innovation.
The Nordic countries have a high number of start-up companies but are struggling with scaling their entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovations to global large-scale operations and companies. Yet, one Nordic company namely Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems managed to become world-beater within the global wind turbine industry. But but after 2008 Vestas has experienced a near death experience and is struggling for survival. Vestas’ story holds important lessons for other Nordic companies, not only within the renewable energy industry. It will here be argued that had Vestas paid more attention to what the management guru Peter Drucker labeled the five deadly business sins Vestas might have avoided getting into dire straits.
Clean water and clean power, especially in remote areas of Africa and other developing nations, are critical challenges. One piece of technology, Microbial Fuel Cells, (MFCs) could help address both problems, and bring the additional benefits of mobile communications – changing the lives of millions. In one incarnation, it might also reduce the scourge of malaria.
Innovation management is a formative discipline and innovation managers have had their hands full with ideas management, design thinking, service innovation and many more new ideas. But sustainable innovation should be a key tool in any innovation manager’s skill-set, argues Chris Sherwin, sustainability expert at Forum for the Future.