The cornerstone of innovation is the « pioneer » or innovator. Originally, the pioneer is considered deviant. He takes risks to develop a new product or a new organization. If he fails, he will suffer a penalty from the established order. If he is successful, he can expect to be rewarded in the future order.
The development process of innovation
The pioneer has the characteristic of being a stranger in the world in which he finds himself. He often suffers from a lack of socialization. Finally, it is congruent. It is insensitive to judgments about ideas, insensitive to social norms.
Diffusion curve of an innovation
Innovation does not respond only to economic interests. For the pioneer, it is more hope of a social recognition if he succeeds. In addition, for innovation to grow, it will need to meet a favorable legal, political and cultural ground.
The network as a vector for innovation
How the stranger, as we have defined the pioneer can happen to make his difference accepted?
He works closely with his network. The network extends beyond the borders of the company / organization in which the pioneer is. It is more or less illegal, or at least informally. The network is a system of exchange and has no independent existence of its effectiveness. Again, this is not the only economic variable that governs trade. The network operates on the principle of giving and giving back [BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI – The Argonauts of the Western Pacific] much more flexible but also more engaging than pure economic logic.
This mechanism, highlighted by B. Malinowski and Mauss is explained based on three actions: to give – receive – and give back, which form the basis of social exchange. It places the actors in a situation of reciprocity, the debt vis-à-vis others. Finally, it is not just two people, but a chain of people, which passes the gift. Understanding this mechanism takes on a very interesting time in social networks on the Internet. It plays an important role in the diffusion of innovation.
Innovation and decision-making
Innovation cannot be decreed. Thus, the manager is not a priori the innovator. He may seek innovation and facilitate it but he cannot enact.
Within the organization, the manager decides. However, the analysis of decision-making within companies shows two things:
- Most decisions are based on normative beliefs
- The effectiveness of decisions is rarely measured
The investments for the decision are enormous. However, once the decision is made, budgets to improve the decision remain insignificant.
Innovation is at the heart of business strategy. It is up to the manager to facilitate this process of innovation. He will through its management and, in particular, in its way to welcome new ideas, help to unfold it. It will influence it also in the way he considers the results, positive or not.
The decision maker, which is not necessarily the innovator, plays a key role in the company’s ability to innovate.
Excerpts from the conference Norbert Alter, University Professor – given at the Marketing Event of Product Managers.