Innovation in a Tough Economy

InnovationLabs has released the results of a survey, “Innovation in a Tough Economy.”


Although I do have some questions about those surveyed (How many? Who are they?), the results do share the answers to the survey’s open-ended questions that I always find contain hidden jewels. For example:

Question: “What specific tip would you give your fellow innovators to improve
their innovation efforts during tough economic times?”

Answers include:

  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Open your mind
  • Listen and be open to ideas
  • Listen to your customers

Ask and listen – such key words that anyone involved with innovation should keep in mind at all times. Not only discovering the “new,” but being able to apply and make it profitable all require a routinely open mindset. Saying “no” to something may be the right answer, but it usually should not be the first answer.

Also interesting is that 31% and 34% of respondents said that they were the current economic situation as “primarily an opportunity” and “somewhat of an opportunity” respectively. And 33% say that over the last 12 months the surveyed individual said their company’s innovation efforts have either “increased significantly” or “increased somewhat.” Although I wholeheartedly agree that tough economic times are a good time for a company to find more of a competitive advantage, I’m surprised to see how many companies are apparently pursuing that strategy. The news is so often focused on the negative – companies closing, layoffs, bailouts – it’s nice to hear that some companies have found the key to riding out these challenging times.

I hope a future survey will look at how successful these companies are as time goes on!

Katie Barry is the editor of Real Innovation and The TRIZ Journal.