The context or environment you are in is critical for innovation. Many of these factors are beyond our control. For example, Edison lived at a time when the world was moving from mechanical to electrical. Edison took advantage of this context and his abilities with electricity to come up with a lot of exciting new inventions.

Some circumstances are beyond our control, but others we can change. Creating the right context for our innovation can be the difference between success and failure. Here are two examples.

1. Organizational Capability

To take an innovation from idea all the way to market is a process that most often takes more than one individual. It takes a team or organization. Does your group have what it takes to grow an idea into a product or service that can be used by others? Take some time to examine this concept. If your group can not look at the process, find people who can. Many good ideas don’t become innovations because organizations do not have the capability to take the idea all the way to market.

2. Market Preparedness

I was involved with the development of a new innovative approach to a product. Significant time and effort was spent talking with customers about what they wanted and incorporating their ideas into the product. Also excellent engineers made improvements to the product and everyone was very excited about its release. Unfortunately, once the product was released, sales were very lackluster. While not a complete failure, it was not a rousing success. In examining the process, we discovered we had created an expensive product that did a lot of great things, but the consumer was not willing to pay a premium for it. The market was not ready for our product, but was content with a more basic, but cheaper product. The lesson is to spend some time thinking about how your product will fit into the market.

As you innovate you need to carefully examine whether or not you have the right organization and also if the market is ready for your product. These two simple ideas can separate a good idea from a successful product.

This Blog was originally posted June 6, 2012