Innovation is associated with technology, but technology is only a form of innovation. Innovation can be defined as the introduction of something new, an idea or behavior in the form of a technology, product, service, structure, system, or process (10). Technology, and the future of technology innovation, must yield scientific knowledge for practical purposes, and the artifacts, devices, equipment, or materials directed to this end should address performance gaps to accomplish specific tasks or to solve problems.
Innovative technological developments in sport require a combination of knowledge from different disciplines and a collaborative effort (also known as cross-disciplinary research) from specialists, sport scientists, engineering, and medical and materials sciences (3). As Arthur and Polak (1a) assert, the process of invention is almost entirely achieved by combining existing technologies, since “We find that the combination of technologies has indeed been the major driver of modern invention, reflected in an invariant introduction of new combinations of technologies engendered by patented invention.” These phenomena reinforce the need for multidisciplinary support from and interaction between the different professionals involved in solving performance-based problems.
The innovation process follows a series of stages to either generate a new innovation, such as a new product or process to solve a problem, or adopt an existing innovation (carry out activities to further the use of the existing innovation). The stages are as follows (see figure 7.1; 10):
The four stages of the innovation process are equally important. However, probably too often not enough attention is paid to the first steps; the implementation process is often introduced based on the last step (adoption). It is paramount to have a systematic process of asking questions, comparing answers, and making informed decisions about what to do next to improve conditions and performance. A good practice is to have a system in which the key stakeholders (i.e., multidisciplinary perspective) can assess the needs and wants (i.e., interest versus influence) of the organization. For both short- and long-term goals, it can be worthwhile to establish an organizational strategy to analyze sport trends, as well as trends in technology.
Four categories are included in an assessment of innovation needs (see figure 7.2; 10):
The aspect to highlight when analyzing needs is to be clear about what these needs are (perceived need), regardless of what others may be doing to solve theirs (relative need). To do this, having deep knowledge of the environment and the specific context, as well as the problems that need to be solved, will be vital.