Incremental Innovation in Management

free essayThis study is motivated by the following fact. While innovation is lauded as a solution to many organizational challenges including the lack of a competitive advantage, the practice is rarely applied within the organization. It is because all the benefits associated with the process are being at a risk. The incremental innovation, however, provides a possible solution to the risk by implementing the novelty in small parts until the organization is fully ready to embrace the change at hand. It implies not delaying the innovation but rather implementing it slowly depending on the company’s capacity for the shift at the time of its introduction.

Most corporate organizations have rather hard times when implementing innovation. However, innovative thinking is what sets these companies apart. In highly competitive business environments, where businesses are unable to differentiate their products significantly, innovative thinking within the enterprise’s business processes is what can set it apart and enable to be better than its competitors. Among other things, innovation enables companies to maximize profits, create sustainability, and generally retain a majority of customers. Implementing some novelty, however, is not as easy as it may seem. Innovation often implies making significant changes in the way things are done within the firm. It may entail changing how people communicate within the organization or how it interacts with suppliers or distributors. Innovation in this case could even shift the way people are hired or fired within the company at hand. This study will examine the concept of incremental innovation as a great option that provides ample time during the implementation process thus allowing the enterprise to reap its benefits of innovation with fewer chances of failure.

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Statement of the Problem

The definition of incremental innovation is often tied to the term of innovation. In recent times, it has been used as a buzzword for corporations, though incremental innovation remains mostly in shadow, with very few mentions in the mainstream avenues. It is a concept that is embedded in the growth strategy of modern corporations for the sake of sustainability within a highly dynamic business environment. Innovation can thus be defined as the art or science of coming up with new ideas as the solutions for the day to day problems within a given context. It could be implemented with respect to management or marketing strategies applied by the organization. Otherwise, it could be related to product development as a way of meeting changing needs and preferences of consumers. Regardless of the context within which enterprises have to innovate, the whole concept of innovation brings a number of changes aimed at making the organization better (Yuan & Woodman, 2010). When the company has to innovate in order to meet the needs and preferences of their dynamic target market, the stakes are often a bit lower. The outcomes are dependent on the possibility for a seamless collaboration between the market research and product development. When the innovation is related to business processes within the company, the stakes are often higher. These changes are highly dependent upon the applied implementation process. This probability explains why innovation is a popular theory though it is being a rather limited practice in most organizations. Implementing some shifts that come with innovative thinking is always a challenge. It threatens the very existence of the company in question. It means that there is a need to come up with innovative concepts for applying it within organizational contexts.

Purpose of Study

In order to eliminate the risks associated with innovative thinking in business this study seeks to understand the following issue. It should analyze the concept of incremental innovation and how it impacts the business organization opposed to its conventional implementation. It means that the research’s main interest is incremental innovation as a management practice that will help avoid the dangers associated with change management within the context of the company. These threats generally limit the willingness of most business firms to embrace innovative shifts in terms of their operations. The purpose of this research will thus be to understand the concept of incremental innovation and how it can be applied successfully within a business organization as a way of implementing innovative ideas for creating a competitive advantage.

Research Questions

The specific questions that will guide the study include:

  1. What is incremental innovation?
  2. How is incremental innovation implemented within a business organization?
  3. What are the benefits of incremental innovation to a business organization?

Definition of Terms

Innovation is often considered as a contextual term with each organization using a definition relevant to its specific operations and interests. The general determination, however, is that it focuses on coming up with new ideas aimed at solving existing or predetermined challenges within the organization or with customers. Regardless of the context, innovation involves coming up with a number of shifts that have to be implemented within the company in question.

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Change management is one of greatest challenges of management. Change is often disruptive; and, thus, it faces the significant resistance within the company. Change management is thus a contextual process that enables the organization in question to implement the prescribed changes successfully. This process in this case thus focuses on finding a way around numerous complexities of implementing shifts within a specific organization.

Disruptive innovation is a more common type of innovation that entails a complete overhaul within the organization. It is especially experienced in the companies where an innovative idea is adopted and implemented without any complete assessment of associated risks on the adopted shifts. In such situations, the challenge of failure is considerably high even though the returns could also be just as high depending on the specific contexts of the company in question.

Theoretical Framework

This study draws from the existing research on innovation and its potential benefits and risks within the organizational context. While companies are often challenged into practicing innovative thinking as a way of maximizing their performance and profits, it becomes rather difficult for them during the implementation phase. The underlying theory for this research is that the outcome of changes within the firm is only as good as the implementation process. It simply means that if the implementation is rushed, there is a greater chance for a failure.

Literature Review

Tian and Wang (2011) explain that venture capital backed firms are often cautious in relation to failures. It makes them avoid innovation. This study has found that the venture capital backed firms that are more experienced in their respective markets were less threatened by changes compared to such ones with less experience. It means that from a general perspective in the business industry, some novelty is associated with high risks. In this context, it can be noted that enterprises barely trust the idea that innovation would improve their position without causing some significant challenges that could fail the entire organization. The main aim of this research will be to find the path that companies can embrace to get changes at a minimal risk. It should be done in order to avoid the association of innovation and failure. With the current dynamism of the business environment, this novelty could be the only means for the firm to survive.

In his article, Lynch (2010) provides an insight that can be particularly useful to organizations that seek to engage their employees in an effective innovation framework. The study states that the involvement of workers into innovating thinking is directly dependent on the way the management responds to some innovative suggestions. The companies where managers are not enthusiastic about new ideas cannot have employees with new ideas arriving regularly. Even if they do, they may not share it with the authority. The innovative corporate culture is an attractive concept within such circumstances. However, it is easier to be said than done. The management needs to understand the risks of novelty implemented and be willing to take significant steps to ensure the following thing. Any changes being introduced should actually succeed. The question of whether they accomplish this or not depends on how well they understand the principle of innovation with respect to implementation options.

Why Innovation Fails

Kelley (2012) reiterates that the concept of innovation is directly linked to the process of managing changes. It means that in order to successfully introduce some shifts there is a need for the organization to have a good proficiency in controlling changes. Innovation always results in a shift within the company whether it is in terms of product packaging or human capital management among other possible fronts. It means that without an effective change management approach, the enterprise may not survive the introduction implementation of innovation. A part of change management focuses on preparing employees and helping them steer towards the right direction. Engaging workers and ensuring that they are on the same page is one of the most basic requirements of change management. If employees are against the implementation process innovation cannot succeed. In the conventional disruptive innovation, however, there is not much time for consulting and convincing workers. Once the management agrees on its introduction, workers are often involved into in the changes. They barely have a room to even adjust and accept the whole novelty introduced. Managing a change is all about engagement. It implies a need for more time and more negotiations to get employees coming to terms with the expected changes. They should as well accept them for an easier collaboration with their management.

Hobcraft (2014) argues that when a company fails to create its innovative culture, it is probably due to the following reason. Its employees have been not completely engaged in the strategic plans for the innovation. Workers are a fundamental block when seeking practical and sustainable novelty within the company. Therefore, there is a need to involve them in all the major contexts. It implies the necessity to slowly and systematically push employees for the expected changes, convincing them of how they stand to benefit from this process, and generally get them to accept and even own the innovation implementation process. It could take a very long time. It means that innovation would either be delayed or postponed within the organization. These limitations, however, are restricted to the concept of radical innovation that includes major overhauls within the company.

Sloane (2014) highlights the opposition that innovation is met by those people who are expected to manage its implementation. The author argues that supervisors barely have the time to introduce it. They are often focused on their routines, mainly because these activities have provided them results in their experience within the company. Changes thus seem like extra work that can though be avoided. In addition, innovation is rarely included in the supervisors’ performance metrics. Yet it is more time consuming than their bottom line objectives. Furthermore, changes are the high risk ventures. The supervisors would often be expected to take a full responsibility for any losses within their domains. Thus to eliminate the passive suppression of innovation within organizations by supervisors, there is a need to include novelty within their performance metrics. It implies embedding changes in the day to day activities of the organization.

Methodology

In order to understand the concept of incremental innovation and its potential benefits to the company, this study will apply mixed methodology. It is mostly focusing on secondary sources for the detailed explanation of incremental innovation. The research will also consider primary sources through structured interviews directed at employees and management teams within successful business organizations that may have practiced incremental innovation. The analysis will involve a content study of scholarly sources on this issue, seeking to establish not only the meaning of the concept but also its underlying principles. The research will as well analyze generally how it works within the organization. The study will also consider practical cases of incremental innovation to establish how the concept can benefit the firm.

Research Design

As a mixed methods research, this study will take on a pragmatic knowledge paradigm aimed at helping with the answers to the research questions. In this case, the content analysis will involve scholarly articles, management reports, books, and journals as relevant to the subject. The researcher will conduct a thorough online search on all major databases including JStor, Google Scholar, Tandof, Sciencedirect, Wiley and ResearchGate among others. The interviews, on the other hand, will feature specific but open-ended questions aimed to probe a lot of information out of participants with respect to the idea and practice of incremental innovation.

Sampling

The sample population consists mainly of employees and managers within small and medium organizations. The research has relied on a random sampling method where a number of potential participants had been selected from the contacts database. They had been contacted with request for their participation and terms of research. The intention is to gain a substantive sample population that is representative of business organizations.

Instrumentation

Interviews. This study will mainly rely on interviews. As a qualitative research that is mainly dependent on the opinions and feelings of participants, it will seek to engage the participants in open ended interviews. These ones will enable them to explain their position on the issue of incremental innovation and how it could impact their performance at work. Interviews are reliable in qualitative researches because they enable researchers to understand what members think regarding the subject at hand. Interviews are often more personal. Thus, they offer the more relevant and specific information.

Data Collection and Analysis

The information will be collected and coded for the relevance of study. The interviews will also be recorded and later transcribed. Later, they will be coded for relevance. The analysis will then involve tabulation as researchers seek to answer the study questions. The research will use tables and narratives in the analysis process.

Ethical Considerations

For the primary research, the participants will be asked to participate voluntarily with no promise of compensation. They will also be assured of anonymity as the study is held secretly thus limiting the risk of exposure. In addition, the researchers will ensure that nobody is harmed in the process of their research.

Significance of the Study

Incremental innovation is a critical concept that could change the way managers and supervisors look at innovation. The past few decades have proven that innovative thinking is the way for business organizations to move forward. However, most of them remain skeptical about engaging in innovative concepts as they are afraid of the risks related to radical innovation. Highlighting the underlying principles of incremental innovation will make the implementation process easier for such organizations, thus allowing them to enjoy the benefits of the corporate culture without any challenges of disruptive novelty. It means that even the most cautious companies will be able to implement some changes that could help to grow their business significantly.