Is innovation evolution or revolution?
Frank Thomsen: It can be either, actually. For example, you can have incremental innovation, which is achieved as a product evolves. Just take a look at devices for listening to music. First you had the cassette recorder, then the CD player, and then the digital MiniDisc player. But sooner or later, evolutionary lines like this no longer produce anything that is truly new. In the case of audio technology, purely mechanical data carriers had reached their limits. So at this point, if not before, a radical innovation is needed. This involves developing a fundamentally different product or offering a service that didn’t exist before. In audio technology, the answer was the MP3 format, which revolutionized the way we record and listen to music.
How can companies become more innovative?
Frank Thomsen: Many companies see themselves as innovative because they have a large research department. But all they actually do is further develop their existing products. They fail to think outside the box, to be truly creative. Nobody at the top of the company listens to what employees or customers are saying. Rigid requirements put a stranglehold on major innovation in the daily grind of business.
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