What Is Innovation Management?
In this article, we dive deeper into innovation management, what it is for, and why it's critical to your long-term success.
Everybody understands the importance of innovation. It's what propels social and economic prosperity. It provides us with a better quality of life. The health industry, for example, innovated life-saving procedures, antibiotics, and prosthetics that impacted millions.
Without effective innovation management, great ideas—the seeds of innovation—would never come to fruition. But groundbreaking innovations don't occur by chance. A structured approach is needed to validate, test, and implement ideas quickly and efficiently before they're lost to the sands of time.
Effective innovation strategies are multifaceted. They tackle multiple challenges simultaneously and depend on the input of various sources. Innovation management coordinates with your strategy and is geared to help you innovate more quickly and stay one step ahead.
What do we mean by innovation management?
The main goal of managing innovation is to create new value from new ideas.
New ideas come to light all the time inside and outside your company. But success lies in your ability to capture, organize, validate, and implement them effectively. That's where innovation management comes in. Innovation management coordinates this process, enabling you to consistently discover, test, implement, and create new value from promising ideas.
By consciously managing innovation activities, great ideas can evolve quickly from concepts to realities. Without a dedicated innovation management team, the process that leads to realization is slowed, more often than not, causing ideas to lose momentum and dissolve.
Implementing an effective innovation strategy requires fully reforming how one thinks about innovation management. Ideas often fail because there's no process in place to nurture them on their journey toward implementation. They're not treated as a priority and thus become forgotten as they're pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists.
By extracting and compiling the innovation activities currently embedded in your company, you can build a dedicated organizational function that successfully nurtures promising ideas en masse.
Organizations can improve their circumstances and build a better future as the best ideas come to fruition and compound over time.
What are the benefits of innovation management?
With a dedicated innovation management team in place, what benefits can you expect to see? Here are eight key outcomes of effective innovation management:
It enables you to capture and implement ideas more quickly
Allows for a faster and more effective idea validation process
Ensures that everyone has a clearer overview of desired outcomes
Results in a better return on innovation investment
Improves teamwork, engagement, and collaboration skills within your team
Brings new products and services to market more quickly
Improves customer satisfaction
Eliminates time wasted on ideas that won't make a difference
Innovation management is vital to your success. It's what enables you to deliver more value to your customers in a shorter time frame and stay relevant in your industry. Effective innovation management allows you to commit to validated ideas that show promise, saving valuable time, money, and effort.
Making innovation management a dedicated function
For ideas to come to fruition, innovation management must become a dedicated organizational function that operates no differently from traditional departments like human resources, marketing, or communications.
The idea is not to replace existing sources of innovation, such as R&D, but to open the door to fresh influences through collaborative innovation and funnel them through a dedicated workflow.
In doing so, you can start implementing different types of innovation you need to realize your strategy, leaving no stone unturned. The most significant difficulty for leading companies is maintaining a 360-degree view of the market while developing new products for existing customers. Blinded by the pressure to innovate and stay ahead of competitors, large companies become vulnerable to forward-thinking startups serving emerging markets.
The only way to secure your position at the top of the pecking order is by innovating in various ways. Your allocation of resources and expected outcomes will differ for each type of innovation, so some innovations, especially those dealing with explorative ideas, must be kept separate from the rules governing the main business.
Making innovation management a dedicated function enables you to coordinate your separate innovation activities so they work together towards an overarching goal.
The power of collaborative innovation
Collaborative innovation calls everyone to participate in innovation activities, helping managers transcend the organization's physical and metaphysical boundaries. The problems faced by mid-level managers will likely be different from those of high-level executives, so making your innovation strategy transparent and opening it up to a broader network is essential for understanding the significant issues the business is currently facing.
A collaborative innovation strategy also grants access to new talent pools, enabling your company to tap into extended knowledge as you gather ideas from more sources. This approach creates connections between people and ideas. By connecting individuals and groups with different experience levels, skills, cultures, and backgrounds, you improve diversity and eliminate the chance of developing a confirmation bias.
What's more, collaborative innovation allows you to forward ideas faster and with more confidence and commitment. These faster turnaround speeds are great news for stakeholders, customers, employees, and other beneficiaries.
Ultimately, collaborative innovation creates a thriving ecosystem that allows all parties to collaborate continuously and create breakthroughs.
What are the key responsibilities of innovation management teams?
Innovation management is a systematic process, just like any other, where ideas move through numerous steps before they are realized. It is not a linear process since the work is primarily iterative and incremental.
Each stage of the process optimizes the speed at which we learn about the innovation potential of ideas and, if they show promise, speed up the process of bringing them to fruition. But there's more to it than that. Innovation management teams must assess potential pitfalls and uncertainties, formulate contingencies, support contributors, and more.
Capturing and validating ideas: It's the role of the innovation management team to ensure everybody understands what is meant by innovation and its practical implications. All stakeholders must understand that this is a distributed function that depends on the input of all involved and that open contribution is at the heart of the process. However, remember that the innovation management team works as a facilitator. They usually don't have all the knowledge required to choose which ideas should be moved forward. What they can do is work alongside multiple stakeholders to facilitate the process.
Providing ongoing support: A culture of innovation is made, not born. And so, it's the role of innovation management teams to provide ongoing support to all contributors. Innovation requires a particular mindset that must be cultivated and facilitated by providing a new approach, tools, and methodologies. Developing competencies and attitudes to harvest value from ideas requires significant investment. Innovation managers can facilitate the learning process with content and workshops, although actual value comes from participation. Individuals need to learn that not all ideas work and that some solutions are preferable to others. This is a critical step in developing personal and collective innovation competencies. Through trial and error, contributors develop an experimentation mindset—the prerequisite of a thriving culture of innovation.
Identifying key areas for improvement: Companies have so many moving parts that prioritizing areas for improvement can become a big challenge. A dedicated Innovation management team can work alongside your key stakeholders to identify what problems and opportunities most need addressing and formulate the challenges that surround them. With a collaborative approach, teams can easily gain insight from customers, employees, managers, and stakeholders into the most pressing issues.
Managing involvement and expectations: Collaborative innovation challenges our perception of innovation, where people higher up have traditionally made the key decisions. Now, innovation management teams can allocate permissions, grant autonomy, and make individuals accountable for specific challenges the company is facing.
Monitoring process health and calculating return on innovation: The process of innovation management is never complete, and just like any workflow, there are always opportunities to improve efficiency. Innovation management teams should always look at what worked well and what didn't, as well as identify and eliminate any bottlenecks. Success in innovation management ensures that the organization learns how to keep innovative projects on track and that progress aligns with primary goals.
When your innovation strategy is well supported, employees, managers, partners, and other key stakeholders understand the importance of innovation and why they share a stake in the company's success. When everybody has an understanding of which way is forward, your innovation strategy can be supported by a thriving ecosystem that spawns valuable ideas that provide value to your customers, your associates, and your organization.
Where is your next breakthrough hiding?
Great things are found in the most unlikely places.
InnovationCast is a collaborative innovation management software that helps you source great ideas and bring them to life in months, not years.
If you're interested in learning more about how your organization could benefit from collaborative innovation and how we can help innovation management teams save time to focus on what matters, schedule a demo now →