Overview

That which once was mysterious tends to become less so over time, as we learn. The incidence of innovation is surely no exception to this rule; it’s been studied and scrutinized for as long as humans have engaged in rational thought and action.

What could be more interesting and exciting than figuring out how, exactly, people and organizations solve problems that stand in the way of human progress? And, just in case we need to make the connection, all businesses in the world exist for the same purpose: to better meet human needs.

Only at a higher level do corporations exist to make profits, because if they can’t meet a set of human needs better and more affordably than competitors, there won’t be any profits. As for public organizations, clearly they have an obligation to provide what people need in the most value-packed way they can. Profits aside, governments have a responsibility to innovate as much or even more than private and public companies.

The central theme of The Innovator’s Toolkit is that the process of creating something new under the sun is more known than unknown. It isn’t mysterious, elusive or out of reach for most. It can just feel this way because most people and companies are challenged to understand how innovation really happens.  

But there is a formula—not a rote, turnkey formula but a structure and process for innovation. And, as the title of our book indicates, there is a set of techniques that can be used to make innovation more systematic and predictable at every step of the way. 

Delving into these techniques can be very interesting for those who are curious about how scientific and technological advances become applied to 1) disrupting mature markets with new, low-cost products and services, and 2) commercializing new solutions that command price premiums. As well, using the techniques in this book can result in making less radical breakthroughs—incremental innovations that may not knock the customer’s socks off but provide those extra features needed to keep up with or edge out competitors.

Not to overstate the importance of uncovering innovation’s innards, it’s like discovering what really happens around and in a black hole. Okay, we just did overstate it, sorry. But as far as life on this earth is concerned, little if anything could be so cool, so worthwhile and so potentially valuable to an organization than understanding how to innovate. 

Most will use The Innovator’s Toolkit as a reference guide as they go about innovation. Others will give the book an in-depth ponder, even reading further about the many tools that are whole fields and disciplines unto themselves.  

Whichever you are, we’d love to hear your thoughts (click here to submit your story). More than anything, innovation is a collaboration, as it always has been—one person in one part of the world making a discovery that inspires and informs others elsewhere. What have you learned about innovation? What techniques have you used to innovate? Sharing your story is an education for us, and we don’t want to stop learning.

As authors and consultants, we’re delighted to be part of the community that’s been studying the laws of innovation and cataloguing its genetic code. We’re even more delighted to be involved in helping organizations make the exciting journey from refining ideas to crafting specific solutions that meet more human needs with more value than they had before. 

David Silverstein, Philip Samuel and Neil DeCarlo