Why is Innovation “Quality for Tomorrow”?

Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to

Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to

This morning, I went to an event hosted by Joyce Krech of the Shenandoah Valley Business Development Center (SBDC), a fantastic organization that helps to connect people in our local area to build new ventures, create new value, and promote local and regional economic development. I shared a little bit of the story of the ASQ Innovation Interest Group (soon to be the ASQ Innovation Division) with everyone, and learned how each person is addressing innovation in their own domain of expertise.

When Meghan Williamson presented her story about how innovation is happening right now in our local area, she reminded everyone of the result from the ASQ Innovation Think Tank a couple years ago, which has become a tagline for our innovation group at ASQ:

Innovation is Quality for Tomorrow.

When it was my time to speak, I clarified what this means to me in terms of my favorite definition of quality – the one that comes from ISO 9000 (para 3.1.5). Keep in mind that “entity” can be a project, a product, a process, or even a person:

Quality is the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear upon its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs.

How is innovation related to quality? I used this definition to provide a more specific description of our position that quality is innovation for tomorrow:

Innovation is the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear upon its ability to satisfy unmet, emerging, anticipated, and/or unanticipated needs.

Innovation is not so much our ability to create something new. More realistically, it is our ability to create new value by meeting needs. Which also implies that WE ARE ALL INNOVATORS. We all have the capacity and capability to create value, to meet needs, and to anticipate and tap into emerging needs. Why? Because each of us has a unique perspective, shaped by unique experiences and dispositions, with the unique talent for understanding some very important slice of humanity.

We are all innovators. Let’s collectively imagine the needs of tomorrow, and figure out how to satisfy them!


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