Innovation 101: What You Should Know

Written by Dorus Silwizya

Welcome to the exciting world of innovation! Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, a budding changemaker, or simply curious about the ever-evolving landscape, understanding the fundamentals of innovation is key.

This article equips you with the building blocks to think creatively, solve problems effectively, and contribute to a brighter future.

What is Innovation?

At its core, innovation is the process of creating something new and valuable. It is about taking fresh perspectives, challenging the status quo, and developing solutions that address existing needs or unlock new possibilities.

Innovation can be:

– Product-based: Introducing a brand-new product or service that addresses a market gap (supply vs demand). For example, the smartphone revolutionised communication by enabling calls, sending texts, accessing the internet, and using a variety of communication apps, fundamentally changing the way we interact with each other.

– Process-based: This emphasises improving the way things are done, focusing on efficiency, effectiveness, and cost reduction. It’s about optimising existing processes or developing entirely new ones. For example, the rise of e-commerce platforms like Amazon exemplifies process-based innovation. These platforms have transformed the way people shop, offering convenience and time savings by streamlining the purchasing process.

– Business model innovation: Business model innovation involves rethinking the entire way a business operates, focusing on value creation, delivery, and capture. It’s not about the product or service itself, but about the overall system for delivering value to customers. A prime example is Netflix, a subscription service that provides ongoing access to entertainment for a recurring fee. This model shifts the focus from ownership of physical media (DVDs, Blu-rays) to access to a vast library of content.


Why is Innovation Important?

Innovation drives progress. It fuels economic growth, tackles social and environmental challenges, and propels us towards a better future. 

Key reasons why innovation matters:

– Solves problems: Innovation addresses existing issues and creates solutions that improve lives. For example, in the health sector, a laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique enhances the way operations are done by allowing surgeons to view the surgical site on a monitor and perform procedures with smaller instruments inserted through additional tiny incisions.

– Boosts efficiency: New ideas and approaches can streamline processes, save costs, and increase productivity. For example, remote work technologies such as video conferencing and online collaboration tools enable geographically dispersed teams to work together seamlessly, increasing productivity and flexibility.

– Creates jobs: Innovation drives new industries and fosters entrepreneurship, leading to job creation and economic growth. Think of the internet as a prime example. Its invention birthed countless new industries, from e-commerce and social media to content creation and cloud computing. Millions of jobs have been created, and the economic impact continues to grow as the internet fosters continued innovation.

– Maintains competitiveness: In a constantly evolving world, continuous innovation ensures businesses stay ahead of the curve. It ensures businesses stay relevant, adaptable, and competitive in a rapidly changing world. It allows them to not only survive but thrive in the face of evolving customer demands, technological disruptions, and ever-shifting market landscapes.


Innovation is the driving force behind progress and growth in today’s dynamic world. It solves problems, boosts efficiency, creates jobs, and maintains competitiveness. Embracing innovation is essential for any organisation looking to succeed in a rapidly changing landscape.

To learn more about how our innovation unit can help your organisation measure and optimise innovation success, email us at [email protected].