Ask people about innovation and they’ll usually mention Apple or Samsung, 3M or GE. That’s not surprising: these companies make ‘things’ and improvements to things are easy to see.

But products are just the tangible end result of processes. Behind the What lies the How… and just as much potential for innovation and invention, if not more.

Companies like Amazon, Google and Red Bull don’t really ‘make things’ they change the way things happen. iTunes doesn’t create music, it just offers a clever way to get it to market. That’s because these days we’re not just buying ‘things’ but the processes behind them. Is it sustainable? Organic? Fair trade? Free range? Is it biodegradable, ethical, sweat shop-free and dolphin-friendly?

Of course, process innovation often compliments product innovation: Toyota’s LEAN process contributes to better products and Dell and IKEA blend the two worlds seamlessly.

Yet many companies still fail to appreciate the value of clever processes, which is a shame because there’s no point having a great product if it’s too hard for people to buy, service, upgrade, finance or repair. It’s not just about the What, it’s about the How.

That’s why innovation is not just for product designers and marketers but for everyone across the business, from legal to logistics, HR to IT, admin to accounts receivable.

Ask your process people; ‘What takes too long? What are we doing that wastes time and energy? What makes us difficult to deal with?’

They’ll tell you What needs innovating and – quite probably – How.

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.