We work with customers of all sizes who are looking to embrace a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Through our implementation services, virtual coaching and on-site engagements, we get the opportunity to gain insight into the concerns and challenges of our client companies. It’s likely that their questions and areas of interest are similar to yours, so we thought we’d share some of the questions we are asked most frequently on the subject of innovation management.
What is Innovation Management?
The Wikipedia definition of innovation management is spectacularly unhelpful. It says, “Innovation management is the management of innovation processes.” Well, that clears it up. (Not.) Innovation management is really a set of activities that involve identifying, evaluating, enacting and analyzing the impact of ideas for innovation. It starts as soon as someone has an idea for an improvement and ends only when the idea has been implemented and its impact is measured.
Why Do I Need to Manage Innovation?
The late business expert and author Peter Drucker famously said, “Only three things occur naturally in organizations: friction, confusion and, underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.” Accordingly, if you want innovation, you have to manage it. Great ideas for improvement aren't fully formed at the beginning and they don't act on themselves. You need a process for innovation management, otherwise you can expect to continue to get the results you are getting today.
What is the Scope of Innovation Management?
A lot of people think only of products when they think of innovation. Innovative product ideas are critical to the success of most businesses, but innovation is not limited to R & D. Process innovation can happen in every area of the company, from billing practices to employee onboarding. Everywhere in the business that there is opportunity for improvement there is a target for innovation.
How Does Innovation Impact the Business?
Obviously, product innovations can have a direct impact on sales and revenue, but innovations in other areas can have just as profound of an impact on the bottom line. Ideas for innovation can improve employee productivity, product quality, customer satisfaction, safety, time to market and cost control. Many companies who have embraced business process methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma see innovation management as the key to customer value and profitability.
Who is Responsible for Innovation?
In short, everybody. Organizations that innovate most effectively involve every employee in the process of identifying opportunities for improvement, implementing them and measuring the results. Only through approaching innovation broadly can you get valuable insight from the people who are closest to your organization's customers, challenges and process flaws. If you are able to create a culture that values continuous improvement, you’ll foster positive change at every level.
How Can Innovation Management be Supported?
Sustainable innovation management requires tools that support the process of gathering employee ideas for change and managing the workflow as those ideas are considered, approved and carried out. A series of alerts and notifications is essential to keeping innovation projects moving and communicating progress to the organization. Technology is also valuable in the analysis and measurement stage, helping leaders identify which changes were most impactful to the business.
Hopefully these answers to the questions we are asked most frequently around innovation management have been helpful. Do you have others? If so, we’d love to hear about it. We welcome a broader discussion about this important business objective - leave comments below!