What Is Innovation?

Jan 08 Posted By Aj Khan

I always get asked the question “what is Innovation?”

 Is it just about inventing something new? Or is there something more involved in it? Can innovation only happen in the technology field? Or can Innovation happen in other fields too? Are Innovators born or can we make individuals “innovate”?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Innovate” means “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products” while “Innovation” means “the action or process of innovating”. Thus, “innovation” is not about just inventing something new.  It’s about successfully utilizing a product or a service in a more productive and beneficial manner.  This product or service might already be in existence or it could be a new invention.  However, key to “innovation” is to successfully commercialize the product or service in a manner where people benefit from it and utilize it to get a specific job done more productively. 

Of course, the best example of innovation is what Apple and Steve Jobs did to the mobile phone.  Before Apple came up with the iPhone, the mobile phone was a device just for making phone calls, sending text messages and some rudimentary Internet surfing. Steve Jobs had a vision of new way to utilize the cell phone and used “disruptive innovation” to come up with a new category of mobile devices.  These devices were more than just a mobile phone but enabled the user to become part of a wider eco-system which included web surfing, Apps, Music, Video, Games, Books and Magazines, and now even financial services.  Steve Job’s vision was to be able to access your whole life through the iPhone and today, millions of users do exactly just that.  “Innovation” made it happen. 

“Innovation”, of course, can happen in any field.  Pharmaceuticals are a great example of an industry which continuously “innovates” and is always coming up with new and innovative methods to fight disease.  PayPal is an example of firm which lead to major “innovations” in the financial field.  Proctor and Gamble has a major focus on “innovation” and continuously comes up with new solutions for our daily needs to live a quality life. 

Who can “innovate”? The answer is anyone.  “Innovation” is a matter of changing an organization’s or a country’s culture to be more enquiring, to be asking why, to be asking how and to be always striving to improve.  Anyone can innovate but it takes years of discipline, insights and perseverance to come up with the next disruptive product or service, or even a new business model.  So today is the best time to start on your “innovation” journey.




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Standardized Innovative Approaches to use Social Media

Mar 06 Posted By Tahseen Bahoo

Social media marketing is not only about having an active presence on the major social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr etc. but it is also about digging out innovative approaches to market the products or services worldwide. There is no doubt in saying that social media is a very convenient, easy and cost-effective method to promote a brand, message or idea. Today many organizations have adopted standardized approaches to use social media in order to maximize the benefits. These top five standardized approaches are identified and given as follows:

  1. Like it or Share it – Stay in touch: The first and foremost important aspect in the field of social media marketing is to engage the users or followers and provide them updates about the ongoing activities, promotions, discounts and future plans. It has been identified that interesting content can be used to engage users and make them participate by giving their opinion. Frequent update of content is equally important for potential clients as well as new ones.
  2. Not Sales This Time: Majority of the companies like Microsoft and Cisco use social media platform to provide vital information to their clients. More often the purpose is not to pitch for the sales but to keep the users informed with the helping information about the products and services.
  3. Societal Marketing Concept: Companies ensure that they are working while considering the benefit of society at large. The aim is not to sell out the products which are manufactured without taking the needs of consumers in account. Platform of social media is significantly used to know the feedback, suggestions for improvements and ideas for new products.
  4. Real Time Monitoring: One of the important features of social media is to give insights about the behavior of the consumers. Social media websites provides business intelligence mechanism to organizations. Through this marketers can track the visibility, appearance and sharing of the content.
  5. Performance Management: Yes! Social media websites particularly blogs provide an opportunity to measure the performance of the brand, product, service or idea. Bloggers all over the world are engaged in writing about different existing, new and hypothetical brands or ideas. Blogging trends show how well a company is able to engage consumer in discussion about its brands. Apple, Samsung, and Honda are doing really well then. 

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Collaborative Idea Management: A Driver of Continuous Innovation

Mar 11 Posted By Tahseen Bahoo

Despite the critical importance of innovation to most companies' ongoing success, many organizations fail to develop sustainable innovation management processes. The article explores the application of collaborative idea management to drive continuous innovation in large organizations based on our experience at Waabii, an innovation software and consulting service provider. First, we identify the key roadblocks faced by organizations in managing their innovation processes. Next, we describe the innovation model created at Waabii to help implement a sustainable innovation process, and we present a case study of an innovation management software solution, Exago Idea Market, which was implemented to create a collaborative and sustainable innovation environment in a large global telecommunications company. Finally, we offer recommendations for implementing this model of collaborative idea management. This article is particularly relevant to managers in larger organizations and practitioners of organizational change seeking to identify inhibitors of growth and business innovation and how to combat the roadblocks and create a sustainable innovation environment.

The blog is adopted from Bank & Raza (2014) available at:

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"What" and "Why" of Marketing Plan for Startups

Apr 10 Posted By Tahseen Bahoo

In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. For entrepreneurs and startups looking forward to reach the horizons of success with their new idea, product or service, planning is very important. Apart from the overall business plan which derives the direction of the startup venture, it is important to have a comprehensive marketing plan. Marketing plan provides the entrepreneur a holistic picture of the industry, the target market and the strategies required to target the product to the target market. Finally the marketing plan offers to measure the performance.

Before the marketing plan is developed, marketing research including industry and competitors’ analysis is very important. An entrepreneur should have wide-ranging knowledge of the industry, customer segments and competitors. For this data can be gathered through primary and secondary resources and then analyzed using qualitative and quantitative techniques. This process provides detailed market trends.

Once the overall business situation is understood the marketer should start with defining the objectives, aims and goals to achieve through the marketing plan and strategy. Adding to this it is very important to understand the product or service itself. For this an entrepreneur is required to work on 4Ps elaborated as Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. Having gained an understanding of market, customers and competitors it would be easy to develop a precise marketing strategy (call of action) for the product. Marketing strategy would include all possible means to create awareness, advertise and promote the product or service. Marketing strategy is set of actions that will help to achieve the goals. The last step in the marketing plan is to elaborate the measures and how the performance will be tested against them. 

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Nov 13 Posted By Ateeq Rehman

Have you seen the movie “300”, Yeah I know it was awesome but today I want to talk about it from innovators and entrepreneurships perspective. In the movie there were a group of solders which were 300 in number and they became an immovable wall in front of an entire army and all they did was choose a narrow passage which leads to their clan and defend the point where they were at their strongest and the enemy was at its weakest.

Same thing happened in the IT industry by one person named Steve Jobs when a lonesome person pitched the idea of personal computer that users can use in their home and at the same time became the biggest rival of the biggest IT Company of that time IBM. Since that time Steve Jobs has become an icon for personal computing and IT industry and till this date he is known for his innovation and entrepreneurship. Again one person with a group of people did what seems to be an impossible task.

Again the same thing happened to the internet when two friends decided that they wanted to change how users use the search function on the internet and how search results should be presented back to the users and the name of those two friends are Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both had an idea and went with it now they are the world leaders and own the biggest search engine in the world Google.

My point is simple innovation is not too hard, coming up with an idea is also not the hard part. All you have to do it properly implement the idea and give it your 110% and trust me when you give it all, then results speaks for itself. What if those 300 people thought that what they are trying to do is impossible, what if Steve Jobs thought that a personal computer is not a viable product and people will never buy it, what if the founders of Google thought that who will use the internet for searching. If they have thought negatively they would have lost a long time ago and reading their names in this article would only confuse you but that is not the case. You all know them very well and will remember for their contribution to the industry for a very long time. Innovation has been never the hard part and never will be the hardest part is to stick to your vision no matter what. “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” - Colin Powell.

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Innovation Impact on Cultural Workforce Diversity

Feb 20 Posted By Nosherwan Adil

In the West, particularly in the US, the concept of workforce diversity emerged at first from the civil rights and women’s movement, and the increase in the population of ethnic minorities. Workforce diversity started gaining popularity when discussions directed at a management audience generated an argument about how the changing arrangement of the workforce indicated very serious consequences for employers who ignored such issues.

From the business management perspective, most companies became concerned with diversity as a result of the ethical and legal implications generated by anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action. As time goes on, management then became interested in how diversity can be best managed innovation strategies in order to reduce conflict and increase performance. Presently, diversity is being viewed as a business strategy as well as a source of core competency since a diverse workforce attracts diverse customers which are very good for the business. Hence, at the advent of the 21st century, workforce diversity became an important concern for innovative businesses as recent studies have shown that organizations that are successful are those who include people. Workforce diversity is now very prominent as even more conventional organizations are beginning to adopt diversity initiatives and incorporate it in their business strategies and customer approaches believing that there is a business case for workforce diversity which can lead to successful innovation of product or services. 

Despite the fact that the concept of workforce diversity is increasingly becoming more important in today’s workplace, many organizations still lack an understanding about the benefits and it can produce as they still regard legal obligation as the major reason for participating in diversity policies and practices. One of the reasons for this myopic view is that, not much work has been done about how a diverse workforce can essentially contribute towards an organization’s success in terms of helping it to realize its business objectives and to gain more competitive advantages in the global environment where innovation is challenge. Most researchers have concentrated on discussing about the different dimensions of diversity especially when it comes to organization cultural prospective. Others have focused on the impact of workforce diversity on one aspect of organizational performance (for example, innovation) without relating it to how it can help the organization fulfill its objectives, and therefore limiting the benefit that diversity can bring, to just one aspect of the firm rather the overall business performance. 

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Apple Watch

Mar 20 Posted By Ateeq Rehman

 Throughout the history humans have evolved into complex social beings and through this evolution we have discovered that we are interconnected to each other on social, geographical and emotional levels but yet we are so different from each other that one can easily be differentiated from other and that difference is more prominent when we meet with people from different geographical location. Throughout the history we have learned how to live together, work together and become a hive mind for greater good of the future of the mankind.

Different people react to social norms and values differently, some take is more seriously than others and throughout the time we have faced different challenges and we came over every challenge and survived the nature and the nurture of out societies. During the process of survival of fittest we have learned that in order to survive we have to be strong and unique in such a way that odds of survival be in our favor.

Times have changed and the fight for the survival have changed from a physical fight to economical one. We now don’t have to be physically strong to fight dangers of the life instead we have to be financially strong to overcome challenges of the daily life, everything have changed but one thing remained un-changed and that is we have to be unique from others. Some have learned new traits that made then unique and other who can’t acquire new traits have adopted the fashion to look unique. Through economic stability and human urge to look and feel unique we all have develop some habits and adopted some props in order to look and feel unique but due to the rapid increase in the population of world it is harder for us to look and feel unique in ever increasing population.

The trends have changed new things come up old things went away but our urge to look and feel unique stayed the same and by exploring this desire of every human living on the planet earth Innovators and Entrepreneurs come up with new and unique ways to fill that void by equipping us with new gadgets which might make our life a bit easier or to perform some task with convenience or just to make us look unique but rarely someone comes up with a unique enough idea that singlehandedly cover all three aspects of human desire. Apple the pinnacle of Innovation in technology and design has successfully fulfilled our desire to look and feel unique. The Apple Watch is the technology that single handedly created a gadget that is unique which makes our life easier by eliminating our need to checking our phone ever few minutes and it is much continent for us to just view our wrist for updates and notifications from our loved ones on the go, while providing us with a premium device that promises durability and reliability throughout its life time.

Apple Watch is the world’s most unique and user friendly gadget. Apple is known for its uniqueness and high quality gadgets. Apple may provide its user the tools to become unique but IICIE provide its users one in life time chance to become the innovator of such unique product and live the life of an Entrepreneur (a person whose existence is unique and can’t be matched by others).

We at IICIE provide unique E-learning opportunities to our users which enables them to better preform in their daily life by enabling them to face their problems with unique and practical solutions. No one is born unique but on can learn to be unique.

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How has Organizational Change led to Organizational Success?

May 18 Posted By Nosherwan Adil

Increasing the ability to create value and improving effectiveness within the organization would always be thought of as being a good thing and quite frankly. But, what happens when doing these involves making changes in an environment that is rapidly changing and often in ways that cannot be predicted too? Combine that with human beings who are said to be naturally hostile to change, then, one finds that change is not particularly easy.

Considering that the process of implementing change could be so complex and also taking into account the fact that the organization in question could already be classified as a successful one, wouldn’t it be better to stay off change? Yes, some may say, but what happens when the only guarantee of continued success of the organization is based on its ability to adapt to the ever-changing business environment or even drive the changes within this environment? Then, the organization is left with no choice than to embrace change and use it to its advantage in order to achieve its business goals and objectives.

Researches realised that it is not just traditional culture that are culprits of change resistance, but organizations as well. So, change management is significant with important innovation policies. Overall that has been realizing that first of all it’s significant for every organization to focus on innovation policies in organization. Management role should require focusing on proper organization policies because efficient management decision can lead to successful organization growth. Management decisions are matter in most situations either socially or economically. Management role can impact organizational innovational policy which should be important for employee prospective as well.

Employee with special skills who possess significant understanding of innovation can lead to better organization performance. It’s also important for mangers to focus on different training methods which can enhance productivity, motivation and loyalty aspects for organization. In today’s world startups, are capturing the huge market which still require the knowledge of organizational change and which can be gain through strategic innovation policies.   

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When Innovation is in Wrong Hands

Jul 29 Posted By Nosherwan Adil

Most people just see innovation as a rare big bang. It's a lot more than that.

In reality, innovation is a series of little steps that, cumulatively, lead up to a big deal that changes the game. Yet in so many companies today, everyone defaults to thinking, "Innovation… Einstein. Edison. Jobs." "That's for somebody else, some genius."

The word just scares the bejesus out of everyone.

"I can't innovate."

"I can't come up with a new theory of relativity or a new lightbulb or a new iPad. I'll leave that for the crowd over there to do."

That's all the wrong headset. Organizations should make it their mission to reward every little incremental improvement their people make. There's a saying we've been using for the past 15 years or so with all the companies we work with: "Find a better way every day."

It's not just a slogan, it's an operating principle. You want to engage every single person on your team to find a better way. You want to champion them for doing it and make a celebration out of what they improve, whether it be a more efficient accounting system, launching a new customer program, or making a screw in a factory turn a little faster to make things run a little better. Those are the real innovations. And together, with every mind in the game, they are what makes a company competitive.

So when you think about innovation, don't let it scare you. Don't let it be a buzzword that isolates 10 people in your company while the other 90 sit on the sidelines, waiting for the innovators to innovate. You've got to make innovation everyone's job, all the time.

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Evaluating The Necessity Of Internal Collaboration To Business Innovation Objective

Jul 22 Posted By Raamish Rana

According to Harvard Business Review, innovation is the “secret sauce of business success”. This assertion is backed by the consulting giants McKinsey that claim that innovation has become a “core driver of growth, performance, and valuation”. Further these assertions have been summed up well by Steelcase Inc, which states that it is integral for any organization from “super corporations to start-ups” to direct their efforts in “identifying new opportunities, and harnessing resources to pursue them that can in-turn create a fundamental advantage for them”. Although implementing innovation often imposes with complexities and challenges, possible solutions are beginning to emerge. 

There is a growing acknowledgement that real advances often come from the sheer involvement of people who are involved in driving the hard work needed to innovate.  It is the effective collaboration of these organizational employees that can determine if organizational resources are devoted efficiently, and strategically to extract value generating solutions. As Steelcase Inc notes that a “great deal of successful organizations look for every possible way to harness creative, collaborative thinkers to generate productive and high performing individuals.”  

A noted author and an expert John Seely Brown has further observed that “the cultures that constantly produce innovation have visionary leadership, organizational commitment to breakthrough thinking, and a place supporting work of innovation.” Therefore nourishing a culture of innovation has become highly important to organizational endeavours for launching meaningful innovations.  

In a global survey provided through Steelcase/CoreNet partnerships it was established that innovation processes prevail within most organizations. Notably, 55% said they often bring people with diverse backgrounds together to work on innovation projects, while 75% say that the responsibility for innovation is spread throughout their organization. 

Steelcase Inc has identified this model of innovation as an “In-House Marketplace Model” where “cross-pollination of ideas exist, and with each team being responsible for innovation”. They further recognize digital wireless communication giant Qualcomm, which offers a great internal message: “Whatever it is you do, our pathway to innovation begins and ends with you.”

(Source: Steelcase. "How Place Fosters Innovation." Web.)   

“Employee Innovation Networks” have often been used as an alternative term by Adi Gaskel, and Anthony Ferrier at Culturevate to refer to a diverse range of employees sourced by innovation leaders from across the organization to “generate business value with limited direct resources”. They further identify certain challenges that do arise for effective collaboration including

- Consistent management – Too often these “ employee networks” embark on innovation activity which rapidly “fizzles” as resources are redirected to other efforts

- Focus on business result – While initially employees might be educated to innovation concepts, that focus has to shift on translating efforts into business results, where little emphasis is placed

- Stakeholders: With innovation efforts underway, complexity of management and competing priorities can form hurdles to the objective that needs to be adequately managed

(Source: Ferrier, Anthony, and Gaskell, Adi. "Outside/Inside Innovation: Combining Open Innovation with Employee Networks to Drive Success". Web.)

Hence with these challenges in place, it is plausible that effective measures and practices are in place to ensure that at least challenges to an organizational innovation objectives are dealt with effectively, which can in turn go a long way to create value for firms.

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Intrapreneurship – A Key Element For Corporate Growth

Jul 28 Posted By Raamish Rana

Upon attaining high growth with often complex processes, it is likely that organizations can face strategic challenges and ‘a market irrelevance’ if the company is not well positioned to respond to market needs quickly. This can further lead to a loss of market share. Therefore, this creates the necessity for formulating teams that in-turn generate a new enterprise within the organization to revive the company and its operational capabilities to react and respond quickly to such market changes. This team is representative of the process of intrapreneurship, and as such they are expected to develop the capabilities necessary to drive and thrive in situations of ambiguity, and uncertainty. They shall serve as important change agents and contribute to future corporate growth. (Source: HMC Consulting. "Intrapreneurship - A Lower-risk Strategy for Corporate Renewal." N.p., n.d. Web.)   

Intrapreneurship can serve a number of benefits that are both manifest, and latent, and hence serve as an important internal driver of business growth. Some of the key benefits include:

- Innovation: Amongst the many elements that are necessary to ensure consistent innovation efforts is the key requirement of an environment supportive of sustaining innovation. This undoubtedly requires a close connection with the market, and the flexibility to adjust to varying market needs. Intrapreneurship represented in team culture certainly fits the bill by allowing these mini corporate entities to quickly react to market requirements in an organized way and demonstrate innovation through new solutions. Example: Gmail is an outgrowth of Google’s ‘20 percent time policy’. It was a project launched by Paul Buchheit that took almost 3 years to complete. (Source: 10 Inspiring Examples of Successful Intrapreneurship. Vocoli, n.d. Web)


- Employee engagement: According to Gallup Research, approximately $450 - $550 Billion in costs are incurred due to disengaged workers that are evidently the source of lost productivity. (Source: How to Tackle U.S. Employees' Stagnating Engagement. Gallup, n.d. Web.)

Intrapreneurship can provide the right kind of culture that employees need to meet new challenges. By fostering an entrepreneurial mindset amongst a pool of likeminded employees, it has the potential to empower employees to determine the future course of business growth and engaging them at every stage of the journey of launching a new innovation.


- Effective change management: Managing change has been reported as one of the pecking challenges with an astonishing 60-70% failure rate according to Harvard Business Review. (Source: Ashkenas, Ron. "Change Management Needs to Change." N.p., n.d. Web.)


These challenges to effective change management can find remedy through intrapreneurship as it equips the entrepreneurial minded employees to be attuned to be dealing with change confidently and in a coordinated and organized manner.

(Source: Folley, Susan. "5 Reasons Why Intrapreneurship Is Important." N.p., n.d. Web)


Therefore as alluded to earlier, intrapreneurship can serve as an important internal driver for corporate growth and a key element re-enforcing flexibility to consistently beat the competition. According to HMC Consulting, an emphasis on the following set of questions and appropriate actions can possibly set the right course of action:

- What can we do with our existing capabilities?

- How can we satisfy that new market opportunity?

- Why are our innovation teams not making progress?

- Why are we not acting on the ideas and observations of our staff?

Therefore an approach of using the right intrapreneur, with the right mandate can mitigate the “risk, cost, certainty, legitimacy and growth concerns”.

(Source: HMC Consulting. "Intrapreneurship - A Lower-risk Strategy for Corporate Renewal." N.p., n.d. Web.)   

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Organizational Innovation – An Accident Or Methodical Actions Required

Aug 05 Posted By Raamish Rana

It has long been an interesting area of research whether innovation happens in an organization by accident or through proper systems, practices and cultures. 


The example inherent in 3M’s Post-It Notes exemplifies that innovation indeed happens under certain conditions in place and not by accident. According to Paul Davis, “conditions can be described and replicated, where organizational leaders have an important role to play”. However, he further identifies that innovation may not be hard to adopt as a practice as it might first seem. There do exist certain obstacles to smooth implementation given organizational stickiness to adhere to a given structures and system. Whereas innovation requires people to transform to new practices and products all together.  (Source: Davis, Paul. "Innovation White-Paper." N.p., n.d. Web)


Given that structural and system designs can limit effective implementation of innovative practices, it is plausible to understand the key cultural parameters that require careful consideration to overcome such barriers, and the orientation of an organization to overcome such barriers. 


A key parameter to ensuring effective implementation of innovative practices require ‘supporting’ employees at every level to boldly undertake innovative initiatives, something found common in well recognized corporations such as Startbucks, Southwest, and Scanlon. These companies have been known to play a pivotal role in ‘involving employees in decision making (participation), focusing on multiple stakeholders (equity), and relentlessly improving (competence).’ Initially when scientific management made important continuous improvements, innovative efforts were limited only to the likes of Industrial Engineers and Managers. Nowadays, certain processes such as ‘suggestion systems, lean, cells, and kaizan have made this continuous improvement almost everyone’s responsibility’.   

3M 15% rule for employees enabling 15% time devotion to innovative products/ideas is clearly a phenomenon that ensures that continuous improvements is made everyone’s responsibility rather than that of a select few. 


It is further argued that amongst the pecking challenges of the time has been the phenomenon of ‘lock-in’ where organizations tend to impose strategies and tactics based on past success. It has been established that with such lock-ins in place only 4.5% of the efforts met ROI goals. (Source: The Innovation Killer by Cynthia Rabe). In contrast entities like 3M have openly challenged such lock-in. According to Curt Larson, a retired 3M employees, the importance of 15% time is that one simple policy/tradition provides a ‘license to innovate’ by keeping employees motivated and satisfied at all times. 

(Source: Davis, Paul. "Innovation White-Paper." N.p., n.d. Web)


A culture of innovation ought to be fostered systematically as it is quite possible that an organization’s ability to innovate is hindered by its own culture. The cultural characteristics can be the key to determine if the culture is an obstacle or an accelerator of innovation. An example worth bringing to light is the top innovator, General Electric, which has often been known for its ‘extensive Six Sigma’ approach – ‘a controlled approach that looks inward at process improvement, increased efficiency, and waste removal.’ According to Hitachi Consulting, the resultant strategy led the company to build products better, faster, and cheaper, however coming with one limitation, which is it inhibited breakthrough innovation, an innovation that enables customers do things better. As a result GE devised metrics for evaluating management on the basis of ‘external focus’ and ‘imagination and courage’. This ultimately ensured that while six sigma applied to relevant areas such as manufacturing, other breakthrough innovations were not compromised.  


Another common practice halting innovation progress can be explained as information security. This often creates a culture of caution with a sense that leakage of information internally may impact job security. It is this attitude that prevents information sharing that is needed to “create synergies across disciplines” to drive innovative solutions.  


Furthermore, ‘the beliefs around challenging authority can serve as an innovation barrier’. The Korean Air Flight 801 tragedy in the 90’s is an example of an incident whereby a culture of upholding rule of authoritative official led to a fatal accident. However, after a series of such accidents was the culture reformed to allow for both captain and first officer fly the plane cooperatively leading to amongst the safest airline records between years 1999-2006. Therefore according to Hitachi Consulting, ‘innovative companies build systems that unite solutions with the appropriate decision makers, they motivate employees with meaning and purpose’. Professor Geert Hofstede, Emeritus Professor at Maastricht University in The Netherlands further alludes to direct correlation between a culture’s comfort level with uncertainty and the extent of controls that are put in place, arguing that “those cultures that embrace ambiguity try to have as few rules as possible”.  

(Source: Hitachi Consulting. "Creating a Culture of Innovation in Aerospace and Defense." N.p., n.d. Web)


In hindsight, innovation indeed does not come in cheaply, and culture play’s a pivotal role. Therefore it can been rightly argued that just like anything valuable, installing pragmatic innovative culture can require time, money, expert advice, and active engagement at every level. Additionally, to truly change culture we need to invest in it overtime consistently and a one-time action may not suffice. 

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Developing Your Intellectual Property Strategy

Feb 04 Posted By Joanna Ma

Joanna Ma is an intellectual property (IP) lawyer with an electrical engineering background. She helps high tech companies develop an IP strategy that is aligned with their business goals. Joanna takes great pride in applying a practical approach to IP. 

Meet Joanna, along with other professionals from Bereskin & Parr, Quantius and IICIE, on Feb. 12, 2019 at "Start (Me) Up" to learn about "Best Practice for Growth, Funding and IP Protection for Digital Startups". Register now at EventBrite to secure your spot!

Taking the time to plan an intellectual property (IP) strategy appropriate for your business can yield a substantial return. It can help your business secure its competitive advantage, grow its market share, and increase its valuation. For most businesses, an effective IP strategy will prioritize the IP that protects their core assets—trademarks protect branding, patents protect inventions, copyright protects original works, and trade secrets protect confidential information. Your IP strategy will evolve as your business grows, and should make up an important part of your business plan that is revisited often, especially at key milestones.

When developing and reviewing your IP strategy, consider:

  • Is branding critical to your market success?

When your brand is key to your market success, trademark protection should be a priority in your IP strategy.

Trademarks include a design or expression that associates a product or service to the trademark owner. When a brand garners significant goodwill in the marketplace, consumers are likely to associate that goodwill to any future products or services with that same brand. By taking the steps to properly clear and protect your brand (e.g., through a trademark search and application), your business can be one step ahead of competitors who may try to appropriate the goodwill that your business has developed with respect to its brand. This can also help reduce the likelihood of encountering problems with your brand later on, and the associated costs of any corrective actions that may be needed.

  • Are innovations critical to your competitive advantage? 

If innovations are key to distinguishing your business from your competitor’s, patent or trade secret protection can play a key role in securing your competitive advantage.

Patents can help protect any new process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter that your business develops. Patent rights can be asserted to stop another party from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention. Patent rights can also be transferred or licensed, and so patents can be a critical tool in any plan to commercialize innovations—whether the plan is to grow market share or license the innovations to third parties.

Trade secrets are information that a business can keep confidential and has commercial value. Examples of trade secrets include a secret recipe or internal business data. An advantage to trade secrets is that the term of protection lasts as long as that information is kept confidential. This is in contrast to patents, which provide only a limited term of protection. However, there are risks in relying on trade secret protection. The moment the information is disclosed, it is no longer protected as a trade secret. Trade secrets will also not protect against independent development of the invention by third parties. 

  • Does your content or design distinguish you from competitors?


 If it is your content or design that attracts customers to your business, industrial design and copyright protection should be a focus in your IP strategy.

Industrial designs (also referred to as design patents) protect the “look and feel” of a product. Where customers choose your product over a competitor’s largely due to aesthetic design considerations, industrial design protection should be a key component of your IP portfolio. This applies to finished products, as well as designs intended to improve user experiences, such as graphical user interfaces.

Copyright protects original works and exists the moment the work is created. An author of an original work has the exclusive right to control most uses of the work. However, copyright is focused on protecting how a work is expressed (e.g., the wording used in a novel, or lines of code in a software program), rather than ideas (e.g., themes used throughout the novel, or functionality provided by the software program). Furthermore, infringement of a copyright often occurs only when access to the original work can be shown and when a substantial part of the work is copied.

 A typical IP strategy will likely involve several forms of IP protection. For example, the success of a new consumer product likely relies on product research and development and branding, in which case trademark and patent protection is likely critical. Your patent counsel can guide you in developing an IP strategy that is aligned with your business goals and budget.


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