May 02 2014

Understanding the Three R’s of Innovation

Companies seeking to build innovative business models and cultures need to learn how to roll with one essential letter.

Innovation is a bit like the mojo Mike Myers’ Austin Powers character raves about: It’s intangible, but it can grip your life and force it into high gear if you cultivate it.

When people think of innovative companies, they think of businesses like Apple, Tesla Motors and Zappos. Those companies embody out-of-the-box thinking or a certain chicness. But it takes more than style to become an innovator. It takes the letter R.

Davin Juusola, senior vice president of Info-Tech Research Group, believes all innovative companies have mastered three essential R’s to become game changers: reality, role and results.

“We believe strongly that the most successful, the most innovative companies are not necessarily the most creative ones,” Juusola says. “It's the company that follows a disciplined process and kind of puts innovation everywhere.”

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously once said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal,” so perhaps there’s something to Juusola’s point of view.

To better understand what makes a company innovative, Juusola’s firm studied the Forbes 100 Most Innovative Companies from 2007 to 2012. It found that those companies grew sales by an average of 12 percent per year, which meant they grew their sales by 80 percent in five years, he says.

Innovation and its success don’t happen by accident, though. They're the result of thorough and thoughtful organizational planning.

“Innovation is really the marriage of creativity and process. And the best companies do that well. They do it continuously, and they have kind of a pool,” Juusola says.

Watch Juusola speak about fostering innovation in his session from CDW's Bring IT On Technology Leadership Series.

For more insights and ideas from leaders in technology, check out the rest of the Bring IT On Leadership Series.