Loehr’s statement “innovation projects are extraordinary because they comprise an outstanding risk of failure” (Loehr, 2017, pp. 60) stands out as a key aspect of innovation due to the inherent nature of the problem(s) being worked on. Another phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention” comes to mind, and again discusses the inherent “need” for innovation in solving a problem. In short, innovation would likely not occur if the need for a solution to a difficult problem did not exist.
Economics in innovation play an important role in determining “need” as well. One could argue that a person’s need for “money” or a means of exchange oftentimes drives solutions for companies or individuals in seeking money or a means of literal survival. Again, without the need for money, a person or organization may not be driven to solve complex problems.
As discussed in a previous RAR, a Coronavirus vaccine is a great example of innovation being the product of a need: the world needs a vaccine, however the company that invents one will reap tremendous financial reward in return. In all reality, they deserve the compensation for their efforts, as they would have the expertise, time, resources, and experience to solve the problem. Loehr further supports this idea when he states, “innovations belong to that particular fraction of projects that have to become applied on the market in an economically viable way” (Loehr, 2017, pp. 91). Not only does a Coronavirus vaccine need to be effective, it also needs to be economically viable, even within the human cost being high in the eyes of policymakers and in the world.
The second most important aspect of innovation is building and providing a culture that encourages and supports innovation. There are many examples in the business world, however in America the best example is the existence of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and its sole purpose being the licensing and protection of intellectual property. As discussed in the What Is Innovation? – Science of Innovation, 2013, 00:00–05:21) video, the US Patent and Trademark Office creates a medium in which inventors and innovators can safeguard their new ideas and reap the financial benefits if successful – thus justifying the need to innovate in the first place through hopeful financial gain. In today’s world, no matter how “wicked” a problem may be, if the financial incentive or need is not there, the innovation is likely not to happen.
Most importantly, the ability to identify and find solutions for problems depends on leadership to create a culture to allow such progress. Leadership and innovation, in that context, go hand in hand.
Lohr, K. (2016). The Science of Innovation: A Comprehensive Approach for Innovation Management (De Gruyter Textbook) (Digital original ed.). Walter de Gruyter.
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