When people think about innovation, they imagine a tangible item such as a handheld product. That is only half of the concept. Innovation is another buzzword used so frequently that it has lost its meaning. People know it when they see it but have difficulty defining it and greater trouble practicing it in the workplace. Responding to a market demand is the real source of innovation, not a spontaneous idea that flashes in one's head. When his brother was badly burned during a severe fire in Iraq, Drifire's founder realized that fire-retardant gear could literally save the skin of soldiers, firefighters, and electrical workers. So his company designed fire retardant shirts that are comfortable as well as highly functional. The company now counts the federal government among its biggest customers. "Innovation is not about creating something new," says Thomas Koulo-polos, a consultant and author of The Innovation Zone. "It's about taking something that exists and aligning it with the market's needs. It's also about how you understand the behavior of the marketplace and not stick to a business model when the market resists.".
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