Innovation, as a term is not realized very clear by many people and that’s why the focus is not always calibrated adequately in the right direction.
The need of innovation in the Romanian retail field appears now as a necessity generated by the market and by a customer more and more sophisticated, having less and less spare time, receiving more and more massive specialized information.
This necessity is the same all over the world and it is the main item which will make the difference between a top successful business and one which will be lost, or will act at a low level.
It is not difficult to talk about the need of innovation, but not very easy to accomplish it. Innovation is hard to be achieved, especially in large companies, who run slowly because of its too many levels of hierarchical validation, where there are, in many cases a good mixture of generation, who unfortunately is not always used, sometimes because of the speed the things move, or due to the fact is an usual practice, or because of the goals on short terms or very short terms.
The today reality shows us that if we want innovation we must to appreciate creativity and understood that creativity explode if the skill can be expressed freely; this is a must because the valuable and gifted people enjoy being free. Free in this context means redefining the collective purpose of the organization and encourages the creation of a culture in which staff is empowered to innovate and bring fresh ideas. This begins with a radical shift in the pattern of leadership and behaviors within the business.
The today reality shows us that we function in a global market, where the information run free, and level the trade and its challenges, so only those organizations which are the most creative, innovative and orientated to the customer will be the winners.
Creativity born from imagination mixed with passion, can lead to great and innovative achievements.
George Bernard Shaw said:
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will
Passion is another factor which drive us to the creativity and finally to the innovation. Do what you like, love what you do and you will achieve the energy which will inspire you to build a great company, an extraordinary product, an amazing working field.
To understand what we are talking about, analyzing more recent definitions of creativity and innovation I found out: • One definition says that creativity is when a useful original thing is created and its value is resulted from tests. It is difficult to find only one correct answer. To be creative means to have divergent thinking (achieving many unique ideas) and then of a convergent thinking (combining these ideas in the best developed product). • In business, creativity is not enough. The idea must also be appropriate – useful and actionable. Creative competitive intelligence is a new solution to solve the problem. According to Reijo Siltala it links creativity to innovation process and competitive intelligence to creative workers.
More and more employees appreciate creative skills and thinking out of the box, even if the working field is still the old hierarchical one, which doesn’t allow an appropriate place for such a culture. I have curiosity to look for where Romania is in 2015 Bloomberg Top , referring to the innovation index and I have sadly found out that we aren’t very well ranked , being far away from our neighbor countries, which even if having smaller population achieve more things to sustain this innovation and creative process. The Bloomberg's 2015 ranking of the world's 50 most innovative countries classifies them focusing on six tangible activities that contribute to innovation: research and development, manufacturing, hi-tech companies, education, research personnel and patents. Some countries demonstrate that they can lift themselves up by their bootstraps through a combination of governmental support and private enterprise effort. In 2014 Samsung spent $ 14 billion in research and development. There are countries like Finland which is distinguished by the large number of staff involved in research and development. Others like Switzerland, home of pharmaceutical giants Novartis and Hoffmann rank first in manufacturing while China by contrast has an inferior position in this category although its manufacturing sector is huge, much of its outputs remain low-tech.
If we search only in E.U. we found out: we belong to poor innovator category.
Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia belong to the so-called modest innovator category; their performance in innovation is significantly lower than the European average. In Romania innovation process has increased until 2009, the moment when the fluctuations start. Romania has the same E.U. average only when we speak about the new graduates of the doctor’s degree. Below there is the top of the countries belonging to the E.U. in terms of innovation.
Why they and not us?
Why England and why not Romania?
The answer for them is for sure the encouraging creative thinking more than we do, and because it is obvious that the thinking out of the box represents a usual practice at least for the English, and in the same time the thinking out of the box is appreciated more and more also in Hungary as it encourages the teenagers and the students to devote both scientific disciplines and disciplines that support the development of creativity but also a concern for a certain orientation in training young people to work in research and development centers.
In the last two years the Americans dropped a few places in the top. If in 2013 ranks first and third in 2014, today they fell three places positioning on 6. Of course we wonder why they knowing that they still have the large number of Hi tech companies. The result is due to the low rating registered on 2 categories education and research personnel. This is expected taking into consideration the American consumerism and the large number of hours children spend on the computer, gaming, television etc. In fact, it is left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there is no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children. In the same way as the Americans, our school does not emphasize creativity or encourage expressly young people to be creative or trained in innovation hubs or laboratory, creativity incubators etc.
In retail lately the focus is on innovation as well. Understanding the previous situations, having always into view the relationship between customer and employer, I have personal experienced what means to think out of the box also on long term, revitalizing the express format and supermarket for Tesco in the last year spent in Hungary. Among the factors which assured the success were: understanding the location, understanding the customers and having into view their needs for a minimum investment and going on revitalizing the customers’ propositions, developing the local range, the implication of the staff and their families in developing the new concept, establishing HERO categories, and always solving the customers’ requests and showing a great flexibility.
You will say why is this is such a great innovation?. The innovation involves the development and launch of new products or reorganization of internal processes that increase sales and reduce costs etc. Yes, it is really a great innovation because new goods are brought regarding location and customers having into view their needs, bringing them new services, such as: non-stop program at the express shops, bringing new technical innovative elements, who helped the customer to find what he want. One example is Electronic Shelf Label.
It is an innovation because we managed to bring in a supermarket format the largest non-food assortment, it is an innovation because it is the achievement made by many people who dare to express free and creative, it is an innovative concept because combined more great ideas in an unique concept who drove to a selling increase between 10-40% which certainly means something in the current market environment.
And because everything was done with minimal investment, based on customer needs without putting unnecessary emphasis on sophisticated things, the success was assured quickly.