20 Great Ways to Innovate

How to Innovate? Innovation Is Not Just A Single Event. Innovation is a Cross-sciences Phenomenon. Asking the Right Questions is Very Important. There Is No Certain Measure for Innovation. Importance Should Be Taken On Open Innovation.

20 Great Ways to Innovate

On December 9, 1968, a research project funded by the US Department of Defense produced a revolutionary result. This research was aimed at improving human intelligence, and engineer Douglas Engelbart was at the head of the project, not a soldier.

Bob Taylor and Alan Kay, who participated in this project, later developed the first personal computer, Alto, with the experience and knowledge they gained in this project. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, was very inspired by Alto while developing Macinstosh.

Whose work is this? Engelbart was the head of the project. Taylor and Kay used what they learned from this project in computer development. Steve Jobs further developed this computer and turned it into a marketable product. So who is the owner of this innovation? Both sides may have their own right, but we will not discuss who is right here.

We will pass on how to innovate.

1. Innovation Is Not Just A Single Event.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. However, this miraculous drug did not gain popularity until 1943.

Alan Turing invented the idea of a universal computer in 1936, but someone else developed it in 1946.

We mean this: Usually when it comes to innovation, we understand that a person can develop an idea and a product by experiencing a momentary enlightenment. However, innovation is a continuous process. Innovation is a phenomenon that talks about finding an idea, then going through various engineering processes and eventually becoming the standard in an industry.

In other words, innovation is not formed by a single person or a single company, but by the intervention of different actors for many years.

2. Innovation is a Cross-sciences Phenomenon

Inability to introduce the penicillin vaccine to the market, Alexander Fleming's lack of marketing knowledge has a significant share. After all, he was a biologist, not a marketer.

Ten years after the discovery of penicillin, two chemists, Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain, succeeded in synthesizing penicillin. Even then, many people and companies had a share in the development and production processes to reach the penicillin used today.

In other words, how the innovation process works is not the exception, it is the norm. This is the nature of the job.

Another example: Darwin's theory of natural selection is essentially based on the ideas of economist Thomas Malthus and geologist Charles Lyell.

Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA is not in a single lab; It was inspired by the research done by various people over the years in the fields of chemistry, biology and nuclear science.

Great innovation never happens in one discipline. Different branches of science have more or less contribution.

3. Asking the Right Questions is Very Important

We often treat innovation as a constant mass. However, innovation is not under anyone's monopoly. We look for ways to do something better and easier at university, lab, factories, and even at home.

But how to start the innovation process? Should we leave innovation to scientists? Do experts in their field have the right to innovate? Can innovation be done with a collective understanding?

Again, we need to ask the right questions to act within the right framework and context.

An article published in Harvard Business Review suggests the following method to ask the right questions:

How well is the problem defined?
How well defined is the ground to move on?
As a result of the answers given to these questions, the framework to be followed is determined and the innovation process is officially initiated by asking more rational and reasonable questions regarding the problem.

Of course, a single method is not enough when innovating. Look for brands like Apple, Tesla, Google. You will see that these companies have various strategies. Therefore, to solve a difficult problem, you must first determine your approach.

4. There Is No Certain Measure for Innovation

When it comes to innovation, people think of startups, companies that transform the market such as Uber, Airbnb, Space X. Companies such as IBM, Unilever, Procter and Gamble are companies that have managed to stay at the top of their sectors for years. Even when technology and markets are changing rapidly, these companies have not fallen behind in competition, despite being bulky and gigantic.

It is true that small firms make faster decisions and move more rapidly, but large firms also have the luxury of moving slowly. These companies have loyal customer bases and extensive resources. They can see current trends and make long-term investments. In other words, an important innovation includes being a leader in a short time, and being a leader by acting slowly and consistently.

5. Emphasis should be placed on Open Innovation

When Microsoft released the Kinect sensor for Xbox in 2010, 8 million Xbox were sold within 2 months. This was an unprecedented success. However, after a short while, the hackers managed to add features to the Xbox that Microsoft did not have in mind. Instead of waging war on these hackers, Microsoft almost supported this attempt by the hackers. There has even been an official update to make hackers' job easier to further improve the software.

Many companies such as Microsoft today attach importance to open innovation and increase the capacity of existing products.

This actually means the following: At some point, you should take advantage of various partners and platforms to allow your existing products and services to be developed by third party individuals / institutions.

6. New Business Models are Essential for Revolutionary Innovations

Chester Carlson perfected his invention in 1938 and tried to sell it to more than 20 companies, but no one bought it. This product was found very expensive compared to people's purchasing power.

In 1946, Joe Wilson, owner of the Haloid company, introduced the rental model instead of selling this product. The rental model was a great success and the company was renamed Xerox. You know the Xerox we know ...

Innovations that cause revolutionary developments often do not fully adapt to current market conditions the first time. The value provided by this innovation is not obvious at first sight.

Kodak, for example, was making money by selling film for cameras. At the time of the rise of digital cameras, it couldn't keep up with this transition, and for years number one in the world of photography is unknown to many today.

Or Yahoo. Yahoo missed the opportunity to buy Google in a timely manner, as its focus was on keeping visitors on the site.

In other words, business models are subject to innovation as well as the products and services produced.

7. The 70/20/10 rule

Many people think of innovation as the liquidation of the old to make room for the new. But Bain & Co CEO Chris Zook points out that smart companies earn the bulk of their earnings from their current business.

Take Google.

Google is working on many radical innovations. Driverless vehicle is one of them, for example. However, Google does not compromise its "search engine" functionality in the meantime. In other words, it constantly improves its current activities. In this context, it is possible to say that Google has adopted the 70-20-10 rule.

It's a pretty simple rule.

Spend 70% energy on existing technologies and activities. (Search engine)
Spend 20 of your energy on your byproducts. (Gmail, Google Drive)
Spend 10% of your energy on innovation. (Driverless vehicle etc.)

8. Needs New Collaborations for Innovation

Participants in Engelbart's research that pioneered the invention of the computer had the opportunity to get to know him personally. In those days, people working on a project had to be in the same environment. In other words, hundreds of people from different parts of the world could not develop a software like today. Today, we can access different ecosystems for technology, talent and information exchange.

Take Apple's App Store, for example. Apple users download the apps here to use their phones better. In addition, this platform provides companies with the opportunity to reach thousands of software developers.

The best way to succeed in the digital world is not to own certain assets; building new connections, getting to know new people and developing relationships.

9. The New Competitive Advantage is Solidarity

When we look at the great innovations made in the past, it is impossible not to think why things have not been different.

In other words, how many people's lives would have been saved if the penicillin that Fleming found was made to be released in 10 weeks rather than 10 years.

The problems we are trying to solve today are more complex than those of the previous generation. For example, according to the data of Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, the number of authors in the articles published in the 1950s is 4 times less than today. In other words, while 8 scientists were mentioned in an article today, 2 people were mentioned in scientific articles in 1950.

We can also say that access to information has become easier and more democratic. Today, a child with a smartphone has access to an unlimited amount of information compared to a child living in 1975.

That's why solidarity has become a new competitive advantage.

For example, at CERN, scientists from almost every country in the world work for a single purpose. In other words, the more difficult the problems we are trying to solve, the more important it is for people from different origins and different backgrounds to work in a common solidarity.

20 Different Innovation Methods

We have stated that innovation is not a singular event, but a continuous phenomenon as a result of successive events.

Let's take a brief look at 20 different innovation methods.

1. Steal someone else's opinion! The best way to innovate is to take an existing and useful method and apply it to your own business. Henry Ford saw the production line in a meat factory and applied it to the automotive industry. Thus, he minimized the production cost and turned automobiles into affordable products.

2. Ask your customers: If you ask your customers what features your products and services should have, they will give you many ideas. You don't have to apply all of these ideas. You can put into practice methods that will make your work faster, more efficient, more useful and cheaper, in line with customer opinions and suggestions.

3. Monitor customers: Don't just ask customers questions. Observe them too. Check out how your products are used. Check to see if your products are being used in ways you don't have in mind. For example, Levi’s branded jeans… When the company saw that people were wearing them by tearing them, they started producing ripped jeans at the factory.

4. Analyze the complaints well: If customers have various difficulties in using your products or if there are complaints focused on a certain subject, evaluate this situation. Make the product easy to use.

5. Make a combination: Add the feature of a different product to your existing product. For example, the wheeled suitcase is the best example of this.

6. Remove unnecessary elements: Remove unnecessary elements to emphasize the main function of the product. For example, Sony Walkman does not have a speaker, as it is a device that can be listened to with headphones.

7. Ask your team: Encourage people working in your company to come up with new ideas. Because they are close to production and customers, the closest people to innovation ideas are your employees.

8. Brainstorm: Regularly brainstorm sessions with your employees in your company and try to develop new product ideas. It would be good to increase the diversity of ideas by inviting people with different experience, education and abilities to these meetings.

9. Examine patents: Examine patents that you can apply to your own business. Analyze the patents you can license.

10. Collaborate: Collaborate with a company that is an expert in an area you are lacking. Partner with a company that has a similar philosophy to you. For example, Mercedes collaborated with Swatch while producing Smart cars.

11. Minimize or maximize: Take something that is considered the industry standard, produce the biggest or smallest of it. For example, Starbucks is a company that takes care to keep the customer experience at the maximum level, while Ryanair is an airline company known for its low prices.

12. Organize a contest: Organize public contests about the new product and service idea, and present a gift to people. This would be a good strategy in terms of public relations and brand recognition.

13. Ask a question: "What would it be like if it were like this?" Ask questions you don't ask in everyday life, such as. Try to act on a variety of assumptions. You can be sure that once you get rid of the yoke of current conditions, you will find great ideas.

14. Monitor the competition: Analyze the current competitive environment well. In general, startups are at a more advanced point in innovation. Check out the business models and products of new companies that are starting to make a name for themselves.

15. Outsource: Get support from different companies for new product development. You can collaborate with universities and startups on this issue.

16. Focus on open innovation: Large companies encourage the use of their existing products in different places. You can also encourage finding new areas of use for your products and services from different segments of society.

17. Find new uses: Find a brand new use case for an existing product. For example, although De Beer is a company that produces industrial diamonds, it has also entered the jewelry business by producing diamond rings from these diamonds.

18. Use Triz: Triz is a systematic method for problem solving. This method, which is used more in the fields of engineering and product design, is a philosophy of thinking used to find creative and innovative solutions.

19. Look back: See why products launched years ago are obsolete today. Examine the factors in declining use and focus on how feasible it is to give this product a second life.

20. Take advantage of social media: You can follow the trends in social media and observe people's interests and needs. You can ask people what kind of amenities they expect in their lives. "What kind of feature comes to X product, you use more?" Even a question like this will give you a lot of ideas.


When we look at the concept of innovation with a slightly broad lens, we can see that innovation does not only occur in laboratories, universities, and Silicon Valley.

We all have a word to say, an idea to tell. In this context, it is possible to innovate at both individual and corporate levels, expand humanity's knowledge base, and make life easier and more efficient.