Innovation is just a tool

Yura Lazebnikov

Yura Lazebnikov made a speech at the panel discussion of the Ukrainian Israeli Innovation Summit 2019, during which he discussed the problem of introducing innovations.

How do you know when it's time to introduce innovations?

The business task is not to introduce innovations, but to generate profits. If the owner, or the top executives of the company, see that something is going wrong, then they should find the source of the problem. Innovation is not a magic pill, it will not be possible to cure a business with their help, because after the implementation, there will be even less money than before it, and the main parameters will not change. Therefore, firstly you need to see what affects the parameters that need to be improved and whether it can be done using the tools that are already at your disposal. This is what we do in our holding, we think about what indicators are needed to be achieved, and then we use innovations as a tool to achieve our goals.

What are the features of the perfect innovation manager?

There is such a thing called a cargo cult. During World War II, Americans set up military bases on small islands in the Pacific Ocean and shared food and other goods with the natives. After the war, food stopped falling from the sky, and the natives start building aircraft models of straw and clay, recreating the factors necessary for food to come back. But this never happened.

A similar picture can be observed during the introductions of innovations. For example, a restaurant is replacing paper menus with iPads. Are they innovators? No! Most likely, they saw such a system in another restaurant but didn’t find out how it works, if these devices are connected to others, how the whole system operates, etc.

When I was looking for the innovation manager, I wanted him\her not to be from that tribe of those natives. Innovation is in most cases invisible. It is important to understand how innovative technology differs from innovation. Innovation is a collection of innovative technologies combined with high industry expertise. Everyone uses innovative technology, but not everyone is innovative. The use of such technologies will never be a competitive advantage due to their availability, but the method of their introduction, the added value that these technologies give to the business, these factors allow us to talk about the introduction of innovation. Therefore, the main requirement for the innovation manager is the ability to distinguish between toys and innovative products. He\she must be insanely skeptical, understand the technology industry, and be able to attract competencies where they are needed.

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