Managing the innovation process

Published on July 31, 2022   8 min
My name is John Bessant. I'm Emeritus Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Exeter in the UK. This talk is all about managing innovation as a process.
Let me ask you a question. When did you last use your Spangler? I'm pretty sure most of you have got one and some of you might have touched yours recently. I can imagine a sea of very bemused faces. Mr J. Murray Spangler. His distinction was that he was the inventor of the electric vacuum suction sweeper. But he's a name nobody's ever heard of. However, William Hoover we have heard of. He didn't invent the vacuum cleaner, but built a global business innovating around that.
That's sadly rather a typical pattern. For example, members of The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Germany. They have the distinction of having invented the MP3 algorithm. But that algorithm wasn't really something that changed the world through their efforts. Nor indeed, Tomislav Uzelac, who was the first one to put the algorithm together with some bits and pieces of electronics to create the world's first MP3 player. No, it was Steve Jobs and the Apple company that basically put one of these devices, the MP3 player, in the hands of everyone and spawned a revolution in the way we consume music.
That really reminds us that innovation isn't like the cartoons. Those light bulbs flashing above someone's head, that's not innovation. That's invention. It's a really important starting point. But on its own, it's not enough. Invention isn't enough.