The innovation management as a tool for competitiveness

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* Abstrac

* Innovation Management

* Social Innovation. The engineer’s role as an agent for innovation

* Sources of Innovation

* Conclusion

* References


This article explains that is competitive, it is necessary to achieve and what are the levels to be overcome to achieve the comprehensive competitiveness. Also described is the management of innovation, which is innovation, types of innovation, and is classified as innovation may be a tool for competitiveness and creativity and innovation opportunities as sources of innovation.

Keywords: Competitiveness, Innovation, Creativity, Retcambio

I. Competitiveness

1. What is competitiveness

The word competitiveness can be defined in many ways depending on the context in which it is mentioned, for example Ivancevich, et al (1997, p.5) defines it as:

“The extent to which a nation, under conditions of free and fair market, is able to produce goods and services that can successfully pass the test of international markets while maintaining and even increasing while the real income of its citizens.”

But the same Ivancevich et al, mentioned that in this definition, you can simply change the word nation organization owners and citizens.

From the individual context, we can say that the end of the competition is to make man a better entrepreneur because of no use to produce goods and services, if these are not intended to successfully inserted one at a market.

Competitiveness is a challenge that is set to achieve both personal, group, organizational and national. It is now necessary to use all the weapons necessary to fight on a battlefield where the trenches are composed of goods and services similar or identical to that our companies offer.

There are tools that help improve or reinvent these trenches. One such tool is the management of innovation, which comprises a series of steps and instruments, such as creativity, to reach new and successful develop ideas that manage to give the necessary push to strengthen these trenches, even to win the battle.

The innovation management’s main objective is to establish new frontiers, supply new markets and create new trenches to fight the last war of markets. Later we will explain in more detail the innovation management.

2. Levels of competitiveness

Competitiveness can be set to 3 levels may silvering in a pyramidal pattern, as shown in Figure 1.1:

Source: Own design

Figure 1. Competitiveness level scheme. Scenarios and challenges.

Note that in Figure 1.1 shows both scenarios for each level of competition, and the most significant challenges they face to achieve these levels. These three levels form what may be termed as comprehensive competitiveness.

Achieving comprehensive competitiveness is, to some extent, a perfect stage for all levels depend on the development of human capacity and competence, which is a scenario too difficult to control by the endless combinations of characters and intelligences, in general, each individual has.

2.1 Individual Competitiveness

It is not difficult to understand that to get to the top of the pyramid have to start from the bottom. The individual competitiveness represents the greatest challenge to reach achieve national competitiveness.

It is necessary for every individual to commit to an activity which can develop comfortably, about their skills and competencies. But how can reached set I know is skilled or competent

It is not easy to find out what our best skill or scenario in which we live better, this can be used as self-assessment tools, psychological testing, etc.. but none of these tools will be effective if it is not clear what the purpose of defining what our skills.

Santos (2004) argues that the development of individual skills CIAPCEI process that follows is a journey of four stages as follows:

Box 1. CIAPCEI Process for developing skills

Source: Santos (2004) “The Path: A map to build future”

The biggest challenge at this level is becoming unconsciously competent individual. Figure 2 shows the cycle to be followed to reach this level, where the obvious reality is individually incompetence. To move from this obvious reality to a dramatic result, a change, first the individual must recognize their skills and competencies, as mentioned above, taking into account the objective is to recognize them develop themselves and become competitive. After recognizing what our skills and competencies should be selected according to activities they comfortable, which allows a better development of the individual and helps to enhance our capabilities.

It is sometimes difficult to recognize what we are really good and it felt really comfortable activities regarding our abilities. Many people live their lives frustrated because they are dedicated to doing things they dislike or which they believe their ability is being wasted. This creates an internal conflict that leaves the person advance in their activities and do not feel motivated to do so.

Now, with a full knowledge of what we can do and in which we feel comfortable, the next step is to make a commitment to yourself and to the environment. This refers to that, if we know our ability and what we do, we must commit to being the best in our field of action, which implies will and firmness in the character to take on this challenge, but at the same time we must commit the environment so that it is also benefited, this commitment is what brings us to the last step which is the challenge to change, because if we know we do well, what activities they do best and we are committed to turn our capacity continue to improve, then we can cope with the changes needed to improve both ourselves and the environment, as we are conscious of what we are capable of doing and what we can achieve, with the commitment to achieve it makes sense objectives.

Then you have reached the level of individual competitiveness. Of course in every step through a series of changes happen and inconsistencies difficult to take but are necessary to become competitive individuals unconsciously.

2.2 Competitiveness and Retcambio business

In an ideal state, suppose an organization (company) has in his team unconsciously competent individuals. This means that all these individuals have defined competencies and skills, and are able to improve and create within their skills and competencies. Now, continue to the next level, all people who make up the team have surpassed the level of individual competitiveness, the challenge now is to reach the level of business competitiveness, but how to achieve business competitiveness

Come into play, not only people, but also the processes of production and administrative, which are the gears to move the organizational structure. If there is nothing, an organization has no sense of existence. Nobody creates a company to lose or to hang out, companies have a clear economic purpose and that is quite logical.

To achieve this competitiveness can use different strategies, each company defines your needs according to the economic environment, social and cultural context in which it develops. Perhaps one of the most difficult is that where micro and small firms do, as it is very difficult to be competitive against monsters that sometimes completely dominate the market. But do not see it as a weakness but as a strength, the most appropriate analogy here is that of David and Goliath, where Goliath was so confident of its size that David seemed harmless and David knew where I could hit it Goliath was too big to not scoring the coup.

So it is necessary to create strategies to establish development goals. It is also important to follow a model that can establish order in all processes, both production and administrative company. The difference between these two types is that the productive processes depend on a tangible physical machine (which consists of the equipment necessary to produce goods, services or software) and a team of people who have the technical knowledge to make it work, processes administrative depend only a team of people with technical knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to lead.

This team of people can be the managers of each area of the organization, although this equipment may vary according to the organizational structure. The important thing to understand is that administrative processes are dependent on humans and whether administrative processes may fail production processes and also does not have to fail the physical machine so that they are inefficient and useless.

In the end it all depends on how the organization is run and the vision that the leaders of this are. Then it is necessary (forget the ideality) that organizational leaders have passed the level of individual competitiveness, because the new challenge is to work in synergistic teams.

But anyone who has exceeded the level of individual competitiveness, is someone who is willing to face changes, but these changes need clear objectives, can not be changed unless you know what is expected of that change.

Then the model Retcambio, (which is a neologism that comes from the words challenge and change, and it was introduced by Jose Alberto Santos in 1995 in the Journal Multidisciplinary Extensions, Mexico) can help us better understand the elements to deal to changes that are vital to achieving business competitiveness.

The Retcambio is “a challenge to the obvious realities, to obtain dramatic results through a transformation in scenarios intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational management.’s A break with traditional practices of common sense, for the less common of the results … a miracle. ” (Santos, 2006, “The Retcambio. Counterplay of possibilities”).

For this case, we are interested in Retcambio from managerial and organizational context (suggested reviewing the recommended reading). The Retcambio raises a number of possibilities to make the obvious realities of the business environment in which dramatic results are important to meet and exceed the level of business competitiveness.

2.3 National Competitiveness

National competitiveness represents the apex of the pyramid of competitiveness. This audience that if within a country are competitive individuals and companies competitive, these two levels are to achieve national competitiveness, ie a country becomes competitive in the global market.

In the XXI century, which has worldwide reach through technological advances in telecommunications, companies no longer have to cover only local, but global. To conquer the global market is imperative conquer local markets and become the best and then take the final leap.

These days there are countries like Japan and China, who have successfully passed all levels of competition, to the extent of becoming real monsters with which it is very difficult to compete because they have achieved not only national competitiveness but have reached the comprehensive competitiveness.

Almost any country can achieve comprehensive competitiveness, but of course nothing is built starting from the roof, it is always necessary to work from the bottom up, and the competitiveness pyramid clearly puts it, a country can not become competitive if individuals of that country are not, do not want to be or do not know how. Part of the success achieved by Asian countries has to do with their culture, which influences the way of thinking and acting, which leads to reach the first level of competitiveness and so on. Nor can enter triumphant models in other countries is not fully known if the context itself. It is very difficult for strategies that have shone in Asian countries to succeed in the West without their being modified and adjusted to Western thought.

Again, the component comes into play the challenge to change.

2.4 It is possible to achieve the overall competitiveness

As mentioned above, the overall competitiveness is almost a perfect stage that for reaching it requires a commitment from the base of the pyramid of competitiveness. Maybe it’s a hard task to achieve this type of competitiveness where the country is competitive, because within it there are competitive organizations led by individuals unconsciously competitive.

There are countries that have reached a comprehensive competitiveness, which has become the world powers. Most notable are the Asian countries, whose culture of order and cleaning work has been one of the most effective tools for rapid development and positioning in the global scenario.

In Latin America, where our cultures have degenerated into disorder, laziness and procrastination of activities is a challenge to achieve the comprehensive competitiveness. It is difficult, but not impossible. However, the obstacle that arises to do is, to assume the mental block to work to achieve the overall competitiveness is working others.

Should be understood to be more efficient does not mean you are working overtime to be, with a simple change in our time management and prioritization of activities greater efficiency can be achieved in our performance at the personal, group and organizational. Can not be a simple thing, because our very cultural norms dictate that sudden changes in the structure of our time and activities put us in a vulnerable area because we are not used to put discipline in our lives.

Although we discipline ourselves to certain activities, sometimes this discipline applies to schemes unsuitable discipline and ended becoming a routine which will probably generate stress at any time is that it be altered.

In this context, working from the base of the pyramid of competitiveness is the key to achieving the overall competitiveness in Latin American countries.

II. Innovation Management

1. What is Innovation

According Escorsa (1997) innovation is “the process in which from an idea, invention or recognition of a need to develop a product, technology or service to be commercially useful accepted” (Escorsa, 1997). According to this concept, innovation is simply the process of developing something new or not known from methodical study of a need, whether personal, group or organizational, to achieve an economic goal. This means that innovation generates ideas that can be sold in a specific market.

To innovate requires a broad knowledge of a necessity, not all innovative ideas are successful, therefore, need to play with all the tools necessary for innovation not only surprised but also work.

But then what is the management of innovation

The management of innovation is just steps or strategies that continue to arrive at a dramatic result: innovation.

There are many ways to manage innovation. But first be defined because they want innovation, they set clear goals and what is the expected impact. All this helps to define the kind of innovation that is to be achieved. Later, we present the structural classification of innovation which raises various types of it.

2. Why is innovation important

“Innovation is the key element that explains the competitiveness” (Escorsa, 1997, p. 19). Innovation and competitiveness go hand in hand, but not necessarily exist without the other. Moreover, innovation is linked to all levels of competitiveness of the pyramid and can be applied in any of these. Now, you can be competitive without being innovative systems only maintain continuous improvement, but improvement processes fail to be sufficient when the market is saturated, when demand is high and when there needs to existing products or services fail to solve. At this point, innovation becomes a crucial process for competitiveness, because improvement efforts have reached their limit and are no longer enough to keep going.

But we must understand that innovation alone, does not necessarily ensure that competitiveness is reached. It must develop methodologies and strategies defined to innovate. Perform a cold study the factors involved in the process of innovation and opportunities in the different scenarios, always be basic tools.

Innovation is like a lamp, so we can not bring us into a deep dark cave if you do not know whether our lamp is powerful enough to illuminate the whole picture. If not properly planned innovation can lead to a failure, therefore must evaluate the risk that innovation brings.

With an intellectually more modest claim, the innovative organization is applying through innovation based on both knowledge and the experience from the reasoning. (Rodriguez, 2003, May, “Innovation from the perspective of knowledge”, 10) This means that to innovate, the organization must rely both on its experience as a well-planned strategy in a logical context. Experience comes into play when it comes to new markets or enhance existing.


3.1 Types of Innovation

According to GETEC (2005, “Innovation Management”, 4), we can speak of three major types of innovation, although the first is the most weight because it produces economic effects:

* Technological innovation

* Social Innovation

* Innovation management methods

All these types of innovations are related to levels of competitiveness.

According to Figure 5, shows that social innovation is largely linked to the levels of individual and national competitiveness, technological innovation to the levels of business and national competitiveness, and innovation management methods is largely linked to levels of individual and corporate competitiveness. But this is not a restriction for any innovation can be applied to any of the levels, but some are more successful than others.

3.2 Classes of innovation

GETEC (2005, “Innovation Management”) defines the following types of innovation:

According to the object of the innovation

* Product.

* Process.

Under the impact of innovation:

* Incremental.

* Radical.

Under the effect of the innovation

* Continuistas.

* Breakthrough.

According to the scale on which they perform the process of innovation

* Program / project / operation

* Group corporate / company / business unit

* Industry / Market

* Regional / national / global

Depending on the source of the innovation

* Directed by technology (“technology-push)

* Driven by the market (“market-pull”)

3.3 Models of innovation

GETEC (2006, “Innovation Management”) has the following models.

* Linear Model

* Model of chain links

4. Evolution of innovation

According to Fernandez (2003, September, “Knowledge for Innovation”) companies can be classified based on evolutionary states to develop their activity as innovation and new product development.

Table 2. United evolutionary innovation in enterprises

R & D = Research and Development

R & D = Resources and Development

Source: Fernandez (2003, September) “Knowledge to innovate.” Journal Madrid System

The optimum level to be achieved by companies is level 4. For analysis and organizational design companies should consider:

* The role of innovation in business competition.

* Sources of industrial innovation.

* The relationship between product and process innovation

* The behavior of companies established when a radical innovation invades their space.

* Habits and strategic thinking of dominant firms.

* How organizations can successfully renew its competitiveness as a technological generation succeeds another.

III. Social Innovation. The engineer’s role as an agent for innovation

Innovation has a clear focus on the development of economic potential from certain social desires. (Rodriguez, 2003, May, “Innovation from the perspective of knowledge”, 3). As mentioned above, the innovation comes from the study and the satisfaction of needs, naturally social. Usually innovation is that needs solving goods or services on the market do not solve and seeking opportunities from the economic standpoint. No company is willing to bet on a loser, innovation always looks for the best results, and this is to enter the market successfully.

But also behind the innovative ideas or is the person or team that has created them. Usually, when one person’s creative idea should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, also if the idea has emerged from other multidisciplinary team.

Within the multidisciplinary teams, both as idea generators innovative assessment ideas must always be an engineer.

One of the basic functions of an engineer in today’s society is to serve as a catalyst for technological change. (GETEC, 2005, “Management”, 3). Most technological innovation ideas come from engineers from different branches.

The engineer is an individual capable of combining intelligence, knowledge and creativity to generate solutions, many of them innovative. The advantage of the engineers is that not only have the characteristics of creative people, but also possess the technical knowledge to make the idea practical and logical thinking to carry it out.

Robert and Fusfeld (1981, cited by GETEC 2005, “Factors affecting successful innovation”, 8) explain that the persons included in a technical development must play several important roles in addition to the application of their technical ability and identify five roles keys to valuable innovations:

* Generators of ideas

* The entrepreneur, product developer

* Head or program director.

* Links, or special communicators.

* Sponsor.

The engineer can perform any of these roles, including 2 or more at a time.

Katz (1982, cited by GETEC, 2006, “Factors affecting successful innovation”, 15) has shown that the careers of technical professionals evolve through three phases:

* Socialization

* Innovation,

* Stabilization.

To maximize personal productivity, each stage of the race of a person poses a different set of management challenges. (GETEC, 2006, “Factors affecting successful innovation”, 16). Engineers play an important role in generating ideas and are perhaps the key players to make an idea into a functional and successful innovation.

Figure 6 shows a schematic of the use of intelligence to achieve technological innovation.

Source: Own design

Figure 6. Scheme for engineers to use intelligence as a tool to generate technological innovation

IV. Sources of Innovation

1. Creativity

Creativity is perhaps the best known source of innovation and applied. But creativity can not fully take care of the innovation process as a tool is too complex and needs to have some limits.

Overall, creativity means producing objects or ideas that did not previously exist. According Majaro (1992, cited by Escorsa, 1997, p. 89) creativity can be defined precisely as the mental process that helps generate ideas. That is, it generates a number of solutions to a specific problem, but only through a rational debugging can be reached best.

Creativity channeled through a logical structure, results in innovations that succeed.

“Companies have learned to select and use creative ideas both external and internal manage innovation and systematically” (Escorsa, 1997, p. 89)

Creativity is the core of many models of innovation management, creativity was considered for years as a sort of necessary condition for innovation, which, however, had an ineffable character. (Rodrguez 2004, May, “Creativity and Innovation”, 2)

A creativity is not always automatically followed innovation, ideas are only the raw materials for innovation. (Escorsa, 1997, p. 89). As mentioned earlier, only creativity is responsible for generating ideas, but is logical thinking which handles debugging ideas to reach the best solution, the most innovative.

In any case, innovation (in all its forms and variants) always requires a new mindset. (Rodriguez Pomeda 2003, May, “Innovation from the perspective of knowledge”, 5)

There are methods to enhance creativity (suggested reviewing the literature recommended) should be noted that creativity is closely linked to intelligence, and that creative ideas emerge in a context where it may not have been present stimuli. Creative people have the following characteristics:

* They are original (not base their ideas on other people)

* They are flexible

* They own fluency of speech

* Have an open mind

* Can redefine (or fail to find other uses definitions for products that have lost value with normal use).

* They are inventive (Ability to transform reality wholly or partly)

It should be recognized that creativity is a privilege that only humans possess, so we must use it to reinvent our societies for the better.

2. Opportunity to Innovate

Drucker (2002, May) argues that most innovations, especially those that are successful are the result of an intense and conscious search for innovation opportunities.

Innovation rarely comes from flashes of inspiration, this does not mean it is not likely to happen, but the innovations that are truly successful are the product of a cold analysis of the opportunities presented to innovate

According to Drucker (2002, May), there are seven types of opportunities, of which 4 are in areas within the company or industry and the other three sources of innovation outside the company, in its intellectual and social environment. All these opportunities have a common denominator that is the human being standing to the center as the main axis around which the opportunities.

Source: Drucker (2002, August) “The Discipline of Innovation”.

Figure 7. Innovation opportunities

Opportunities within the company or industry

* The unexpected happens. This opportunity is linked to the changes that occur suddenly within societies: the fashions, new needs as supply changes, economic status, etc.. also redefining products is within this opportunity. Send a new value to products that have lost.

* Inconsistencies. The opportunity to innovate in inconsistencies can be found, just a matter of observing. Sometimes the products that have been designed for a purpose not have the desired effect, a redefinition of the product or empty on the market can make a difference.

* Needs of the process. When the production process is obtained need to adapt an innovation. Sometimes that happens to demand because the equipment tends to become obsolete, so it is necessary to make adjustments to the equipment and the process, either to make more efficient and produce more volume. This opportunity arise most of the technological innovations. Opportunities outside the company

* Changes in the industry and the market. The most obvious opportunity for all. The changes produce great opportunities to innovate. This linked to new consumer trends and new ideological currents that arise in the business environment. With this opportunity social innovations have emerged as frozen and ready for cooking and microwave, as well as innovations in process management and cleaner production and eco-design.

* Demographic changes. Managers have long known that demographics matter but have always believed that change slowly, but in this century, things are not well. You can find opportunities to innovate in changing number of people and their distribution by age, occupation, education, and geographic location. Most of the population in Latin America is comprised of youth. This means that a good or service designed for this population and its acceptance is a successful social innovation. In recent years there have been showing trends of certain products, most of all those who are promoted by notables of the sport or the art world.

* Changes in perception. Here comes into play this psychological game to see the glass half full half empty. Change the perspective of managers see glasses half full can open a great opportunity to innovate.

* New knowledge. In the XXI century technological change is rapidly giving you, you need to be updated on new trends of knowledge, new discoveries and even be yourself that goes beyond the known. Within the scheme are the best opportunities to innovate.


To achieve the levels of competition is necessary to work from the bottom, are the individuals who must purchase commitments and challenges to change and improve. Innovation is perhaps the most effective tool to capture new markets, but also the most risky because it is an adventure to the unknown and a gamble on whether the changes will be accepted.



Drucker, P. F. (2002, August) “The Discipline of Innovation”. Harvard Business School Publishing.

Escorsa Castells, P. (1997) “Technology and innovation in the enterprise. Direction and management.” Spain: Editorial UPC

GETEC “Innovation Management”.

GETEC. “Factors affecting successful Innovation”

Ivancevich, J. M., Lorenzi, P., Skinner, S. J. and P. Crosby B. (1997). “Management. Quality and Competitiveness”. First Edition in Spanish. Spain: McGraw – Hill Interamericana.

Fernndez, C. (2003, August 18) R “Knowledge to innovate.” Madrid System Journal (Journal of Research in management and technological innovation

P. Rodriguez, J. (2004, May 23) “Creativity and Innovation”. Journal Madrid System. Journal of Research in management and technological innovation.

P. Rodriguez, J. (2003, September 18) “Innovation from the perspective of knowledge.” Madrid System. Journal of Research in management and technological innovation.

Santos, J. A. (2004) “The Path: A map to build the future.” El Salvador: Editorial University of El Salvador.

Santos, J. A. (2006) “The Retcambio. Counterplay of possibilities.”\

Recommended bibliography for further information

Allison, K. (2005) “Secrets from the Innovation Room: How to Create High-Voltage Ideas That Make Money, Win Business, and Outwit the Competition”. United States: McGraw – Hill

Santos, J. A. (2005) “The organizational Retcambio”.

Santos, J. A. (2005) “Management and Geoliderazgo Retcambio”



Data from the author:

Wendy Manzano Aymeth polio

Food Engineering Student

Course Work Psychology

Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

University of El Salvador