Persistent Innovation – Why it Works! Ask Babe Ruth…


Picture Credit: Pinterest

Oxford Journals published an article from Norwegian researchers including Koson Sapprasert at the Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK) suggesting that empirical evidence supports the virtue of “persistence of innovation.”  But the authors  elaborate proposing that “differences in innovation strategies across firms are an important driving force behind innovation persistence.” Empirical measures of five innovation strategies were identified by means of an inductive method: ad hoc, supplier based, market driven, R&D intensive and science based. The team sums up: – Firms pursuing the strategies “market driven,” “R&D intensive,” and “science based” were more likely to be persistent innovators. While playing Grand Tourismo on his Playstation last year, my son schooled me onthe Dragon“- “Come on, Dad, that’s the new Toyota FT-1!


Picture Credit: – Japanese dragons control “the rain, fire and the Earth” according to legend

A national character persists for innovation, according to empirical evidence.  Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Italy from the “Survey on Manufacturing Firms” conducted by Mediocredito-Capitalia (data from 1995-2003) were studied. Small and Lotti concluded “that international competition fosters R&D intensity, especially for high-tech firms. Firm size and R&D intensity, along with investment in equipment, enhances the likelihood of having both process and product innovation. Both these kinds of innovation have a positive impact on firm’s productivity, especially process innovation. ”

Many innovators in the U.S. are hoping for a reversal in the chronic underinvestment in capital investment during the next administration, particularly with the pledge to sharply reduce corporate taxation. IAI heard this analysis repeatedly yesterday from financial colleagues explaining the strong international investment market response to the outcome of the U.S. election.

European scholars at ISI Growth recently tested “if persistent innovators, defined according to different innovation activities (R&D, product and process innovation, patenting) grow more than other firms, and if innovation persistence can contribute to explain the so far little evidence in favor of persistence in growth itself.” In their study of 22 years of data (1990-2012) of Spanish manufacturing firms, the ISI authors saw no demonstration of persistent innovation (not like Spaniards IAI knows!)  TIK authors writing about the 8th European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (EU FP) Horizon 2020 suggest in Scientometrics that a clear success strategy can be pursued. – “the probability of succeeding is strengthened by prior participation as well as the scientific reputation of the applicant organization.” So being known and qualified are proven success factors,,,

Yes, indeed, persistence is a deliberate quality as Babe Ruth demonstrated over a long, productive 22 season career (as a Baltimore Oriole, a Red Sox and a New York Yankee). So IAI is going to explore constructive deliberate persistence in future blogs. W.E. MacMullen posited in 1976 that “creativity must involve the whole man – what he both senses and knows.” Fast Company offers a positive profile of “highly persistent people”:

1. An All-Consuming Vision

Persistent people have a goal or vision in mind that motivates and drives them. Their vision is deeply ingrained, and they focus on it constantly and with great emotion and energy. Reaching this goal becomes the focal point of their life and they devote a major portion of their energies and time toward reaching it.

2. A Burning Desire

Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Repeated failures, dead ends, and periods when it seems like no progress is being made often come before any major breakthroughs happen. Persistent people have the inner energy and intensity to keep them motivated and going through these tough times.

3. Inner Confidence

People who overcome the odds and achieve greatly are often described as “marching to the beat of their own drummer.” They know what they want and are seldom swayed by the opinion of the masses. While that inner confidence gets challenged and shaken, it never gets destroyed and constantly acts as a source of courage and determination.

4. Highly Developed Habits

Rohn also once said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Highly persistent people have come to rely upon their self-discipline and developing habits they can count on to continue down the path toward their eventual goals. They believe the results of the efforts they make today may not be seen for a long time, but they strongly believe that everything they do will count toward their outcome in the end.

5. Ability To Adjust And Adapt

Persistent people have the ability to adjust and adapt their action plan. They do not stubbornly persist in the face of evidence that their plan is not working, but look for better ways that will increase their chances of success. They are not tied into their ego and are quickly willing to admit when something is not working. As well, they are quick to adapt the ideas of others that have been shown to work well.

6. Commitment To Lifelong Learning

Persistent people realize that any goal worth reaching will take time, effort, and continuously learning new skills and thinking patterns. They welcome change and new ideas and continue looking for ways they can incorporate these into their lives. Ongoing learning is seen as part of a process through which the highly persistent continually expand the range of tools that they have to work with. Naturally curious, persistent types not only see learning as a way to reach their goals more quickly, but they also see self-development as a way of life (here’s a template!).

7. Role Models That Act As Guides And Mentors

While it may appear that highly persistent people act alone and don’t need anyone, most have a carefully chosen group of people they admire and emulate. These can be people who are actually involved in their lives as mentors/confidantes or they can be figures who they have read about and who have deeply impacted them. You will know who these people are since persistent people will often quote them.


Picture Credit: CW’s Hero “Arrow”

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