Innovation: the Main Driver of Business Success
Look back through the history of economic development and you will see that our progress from the Stone Age is due to man's creative ability. From the very first person who worked out how to produce fire to warm the cave and cook the spoils of the hunt, to the great minds responsible for the production and harnessing of nuclear energy, each step along the path was achieved by an individual's ability to innovate. Innovation comes from the exercise of independent judgment, the ability of each individual to look at the problems of existence and to find a way of solving them.
Innovation is the trait most responsible for business success. From the very first idea of creating the business, through all the decisions that have to be made to organise the business, innovation is essential. And just as human progress throughout the ages has occurred through innovation, so the progress and continued success of a business enterprise is sustained through innovation. To keep up with its competitors, and with changing markets, a company must innovate.
Innovation and Business Ethics
What character traits lead to innovation? In 'The Money-Making Personality', the philosopher Ayn Rand describes the essence of the money maker. Money-Makers or innovators are individuals of independent judgment, a high self-esteem and a love of productiveness.
What is the connection between these character traits of the innovator, and business ethics?
As part of the philosophy of Objectivism, Ayn Rand defined a code of ethics for living in general. This code, which is essentially a guide to the productive use of the mind, provides the logical foundation for these traits of the innovators, a set of virtues which also fosters innovation for anyone, at any level of ability. The Objectivist Ethics uphold 7 virtues: Rationality, Productiveness, Pride, Independence, Integrity, Honesty, and Justice. Click on the hyperlinks for each of these for the definition, philosophical justification and inspiring business examples of these virtues.
A successful organisation must not only be led by innovators; it must also employ innovators at every level. To be efficient and constantly improving, a company must act on ideas for improvement generated by any, and ideally all, of its employees.
So how can a company foster and encourage innovation in its employees? By translating the Objectivist principles into its own code of ethics, by training and inspiring all of its employees, and by setting up review processes to ensure that the code is being followed.
Refer to benefits to read how Objectivism specifically leads to innovation within an enterprise.
Fostering Innovation through Management
Refer to Management Principles to read which management principles foster innovation.
 I have drawn heavily on the excellent material in Dr. Edwin Locke’s The Prime Movers - Traits of the Great Wealth Creators (www.edwinlocke.com). His book is full of penetrating analysis of the qualities of inventors and businessmen, and inspiring examples of business achievement.
I have also extensively used the research of Donna Greiner and Theodore Kinni, presented in Ayn Rand and Business (available from Amazon Books).