The Future Of Innovation Lies In New Combination Logic

Dr Paul Mattyssens

Future innovation will require the bridging of seemingly inevitable dilemma’s embedded in our innovation frames. An innovative perspective on innovation is required urgently.

Firstly, the innovation of the future combines the creation of a new dominant design with a new dominant logic. The strict division of technological innovation and value (strategic) innovation cannot be sustained anymore. Disruptive innovators combine both types of research simultaneously. For instance, the iPod combined a new product concept (vis-à-vis the Walkman) with a new concept of acquiring and delivering songs via the web (iTunes). Real breakthrough innovations break industry rules. The dilemma of ‘technology push versus market pull’ will not count anymore.

Innovation leadership will build on a market driving logic where innovations shape market behavior and restructure markets. Disruptive innovations combining new category creation with technological revolution will be sought. Functional foods are a good example of such a market driving innovation.

Secondly, future innovation will increasingly combine companies’ own competence building and consequent IP protection with open innovation models. Also here, it is not ‘either…or’! Both types of innovation are needed simultaneously to build disruptive innovations. The core technological competences need to be protected while at the same time opening up the innovation process to suppliers and customers. Such vertical open innovation ties will have to be combined with horizontal partnerships (i.e., partners from adjacent supply chains) in order to make substantial progress. An example of such collaborations is a partnership of gas supplier ATO with food processing machines supplier Stork and food producer Unilever in order to produce and conserve a new type of avocado mousse.

This leads into a third combination challenge. The case of the development of new food categories such as probiotics requires the collaboration of different industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical, food and packaging. Innovators are forced to combine different technologies rather than excel in one technology only. The innovations of the future will further integrate intelligence with hardware originating in multiple technologies (e.g., mechatronics) and integrate different types of sciences into new materials such as the combination of life sciences and performance materials resulting in ‘smart materials’ at DSM. In the past the technology specialists showed the way. In the future, smart combiners will lead the pack.

Finally, innovation becomes all the more an activity requiring ambidexterity. This implies a combination of routines leading to efficiency, speed and control with dynamic capabilities for stimulating their ‘absorptive capacity’. The latter leads to early recognition of trends, sharing and experimentation. An ambidextrous organization does not accept the traditional time-cost-quality trade-offs. Individual value optimization will not preclude corporate social responsibility. Local relevance will be combined with global efficiency and relevance. Due to their ambidextrous structure and culture, companies such as 3M or Google will further stretch their ‘pipeline’.

To conclude, we believe the dominant innovation logic has to be revised. Top innovators must question their one-dimensional views on so-called innovation dilemmas. Rather, they will bridge these extremes exploiting their ‘combination skills’.

Article © 2009 Dr Paul Mattyssens. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Dr Paul Mattyssens

Dr Paul Mattyssens

affiliation:   University Of Antwerp

position:  Professor

country:  Belgium

area of interest:  Innovation management

contact author

keywords for “The Future Of Innovation Lies In New Combination Logic”