Innovation breakthroughs are rare, but the innovation that rewrites the rules of an industry is the focus of most management attention.

Most  innovation activity, and the source of most value from innovation, comes in small steps, one day at a time, along a path whose outcome is improvement. 

Toytota’s continuous improvement DNA is an enterprise wide innovation effort, now partially understood and codified as the  TPS is the best known example, and concentrates on taking small steps, every day, that add up to a huge change over a period of time.

And as we can now see from the quality stumbles of Toyota over the last couple of years, if you take your eye off the long term, and take the short term prize, it can ruin the hard-won momentum.

Look for the trends in your industry, make them visible to the entire enterprise, and tie every activity  (not just of employees, but importantly suppliers as well)  to the target of achieving an improvement