Perspectives & Concepts of Innovation

Dr. Bettina von Stamm is a renowned expert in innovation, product development and design. She has been researching and working on innovation for over 25 years, calling herself an innovation philosopher, storyteller or catalyst. In 2004, she founded the Innovation Leadership Forum, a Think & Do Tank that helps organizations understand, unlock and improve their innovation potential and performance. In an interview with Julia Schmidt, Business Development at innosabi, she is giving an exceptional overview of how innovation concepts and our perspectives have changed in recent decades:

“Of course people have always innovated. What has changed over time is the degree to which we deliberately and proactively seek to create these various types of innovation.”

As the most important piece of advice, the innovation expert gives organizations the following task:

“Define what innovation means to you and why you want that specific kind of innovation to happen in your organization. Most companies I talk to think and claim that innovation is important to them, while most do not even have a company-wide definition. How can you expect innovation to happen, when you do not even know what it means?”

According to Dr. Bettina von Stamm, there is no “one right” definition of innovation:

“Understand and define what innovation means for your organization, in your specific context. This will not be only one type of innovation, it is most likely a hole innovation scape. Organizations have to be very clear on where they want to innovate and why they want to innovate there. Success factors vary, depending on the company and the kind of innovation.”

The Changing Concepts of Innovation

The overview Dr. Bettina von Stamm can give on the changes in the concepts of innovation within the past 30 years is remarkable. She says that each kind of innovation has always been done in a way, just not as a deliberately promoted concept, but unconsciously, accidentally or even out of emergency situations. Initially, the concept of innovation management only evolved around product innovations in the early nineties. It was simply about improving own products through research and development. Since then, in particular, the breadth and perspective of the concept of innovation has changed. When one saw fewer possibilities in pure product innovation, process innovation followed. For example, cost-efficient machines, simplified processes and intelligent warehousing have been implemented. After this potential seemed largely exhausted, the service innovation followed. Thereby the end of the sales process and the user experience were optimized. In the early 2000s, the targeted business model innovation came along. Thus, the issue of innovation within companies has grown from the smallest unit, the single product, to the largest possible unit, the business model. However, Dr. Bettina von Stamm says that this is just another piece in a much bigger puzzle:

“One thing is for certain: The path of innovation does not end there. It is an endless journey where there is always something else around the corner.”

We thank Dr. Bettina von Stamm and everyone involved in the making of this great interview and look forward to finding out together which concepts of innovation will prevail in the future.