Why does innovation management require a systematic approach

Innovation isn't just about great ideas—it's about a systematic process to bring them to life. Harnessing enthusiasm is easy; the challenge is having a dedicated approach to nurture and implement. Fostering innovation can be tricky, but a structured approach will help keep the innovative spirit alive. Systemize, optimize, and innovate!

Innovation Management
Leonardo Varella-Cid
Leonardo Varella-Cid
Co-Founder @ InnovationCast
August 16, 2022

Why Does Innovation Management Require a Systematic Approach?

Having enthusiastic people with a commitment to innovation isn't the biggest challenge you face. No doubt there are those present in your company with the right capability and intentions for driving innovative progress but without a well-defined systematic approach, these characteristics are easily squandered.

The biggest challenge most organizations face is designing a process that drives the implementation of ideas. Sporadic activities such as creative brainstorming sessions and customer satisfaction surveys aren't enough to progress your innovation at the rate needed to keep up with customer demands and the threat of competition.

To stay relevant in your industry, you must establish ongoing activities that systematically support innovation. To ensure long-term viability, you must innovate across the full spectrum of opportunities and guide these ideas systematically with appropriate approaches.

What is systematic innovation?

A useful definition for systematic innovation was once provided by management consultant Peter Drucker:

“Systematic innovation is innovation resulting from an intentional and organized process to evaluate opportunities to introduce change.”

Systematic innovation relies on a series of combined tasks and activities to form an innovation process. Processes for innovation function in much the same way as those traditionally used for corporate functions such as marketing, communications, sales and human resources.

Making innovation a dedicated organizational function in your organization is essential for harnessing and developing the innovative spirit already present within your workforce.

Why is a systematic approach vital for successful innovation?

Organizations rarely struggle with motivating people to come forward with ideas for change. When you launch new innovation activities, there's probably a wave of excitement and enthusiasm that bubbles to the surface, and soon you find yourself inundated with suggestions. This is, by and large, the easiest phase of innovation.

But without a systematic process in place, these ideas inevitably hit a roadblock. The lack of a dedicated team and system results in a cyclical start-stop model that sucks the life of your innovation progress.

All corporate functions rely on dedicated teams to perform effective processes. Can your marketing team operate to its full potential if nobody is dedicated to making change happen?

Consider your customer journey, for example. One of the main challenges sales teams face is creating a seamless customer journey, void of pain points, that minimizes the chance of a customer abandoning their cart before reaching the checkout. Streamlining the customer journey increases the chances of a customer completing a transaction, but it's only possible to achieve this with a dedicated team, supported by a systematic process.

When you implement a systematic approach to innovation, you're trying to optimize the chances of ideas becoming realized—successful or otherwise. A systematic approach ensures that promising ideas are given a chance, explored, and a way is found to make them happen.

Is remote work stifling innovation?

Since the rise of remote work, organizations are struggling more than ever to rekindle the thriving communication channels that contribute so greatly to innovation.

While analyzing key trends of the remote-work movement, Microsoft found that shrinking networks are significantly endangering innovation. A statement supported by Microsoft's Dr. Nancy Baym, when she said, “When you lose connections, you stop innovating. It's harder for new ideas to get in and groupthink becomes a serious possibility.”

But the shift to remote work hasn't been entirely negative. Some 59% of employees at Microsoft cited “improved work/life balance” as a reason for choosing remote work, and productivity has seen tangible improvements too. Microsoft employees did confirm, however, that remote work yields few benefits for their network, with 70% citing “collaboration with coworkers” as a primary reason for working in person.

Remote or hybrid organizations must attempt to simulate and create the time and space for the “water cooler” conversations that prove beneficial for innovation by supporting all activities, including idea generation, with a systematic approach.

Supporting innovation from start to finish

Let's start with idea generation, an activity most companies would confess to performing well. Fostering a thriving breeding ground of ideas is integral for a successful innovation strategy and must be supported with relevant activities. But are you reaching your full ideation potential?

A study performed by Adobe in 2016 found that only 41% believe they are creative and only 31% believe they are living up to their creative potential. The idea that creativity—which is fuel for innovation—is potentially lacking could be critical for your long-term success. After all, how can you reach your full innovative potential if large portions of your workforce feel creatively disengaged?

It seems adequate support and encouragement is the solution for facilitating creativity, especially for those with lower initial innovation performance. This is why a systematic approach to innovation is essential—to repeatedly support your innovation efforts.

Once you've extracted the maximum potential from your ideation activities, a lot more work needs to be done to validate and shape ideas into something that may work and create value and impact. It's up to organizations and leaders to create conditions where great ideas can take root, develop, and be implemented.

So what can you do to bring these ideas closer to implementation? Well, researchers at the University of Economics, Prague and Aston University, United Kingdom found a range of capabilities that contribute to innovation. In addition to idea generation, organizations should support innovation with idea search and implement processes such as communication, involvement of others and execution.

PhD. Sociologist Tracy Brower, Author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work, also spoke about ways to make your organization more innovative in her article published in Forbes in 2020. She concluded that successful innovation relies on involving others, marshaling support, learning from past experiences, reflecting on results, testing and prototyping, supporting implementation, and improving and creating effective innovation conditions.

Without a dedicated innovation team that facilitates all innovation activities throughout your organization, it's almost impossible to innovate and succeed, especially if your organization is large.

Facilitate systematic innovation with innovation management software

In the same way that companies use software solutions to support marketing, sales or accounting activities, it's now possible to implement end-to-end support for all innovation activities.

With InnovationCast, you can help your company to innovate more routinely and focus on what matters most: collaborating to bring great ideas to life.

InnovationCast provides a collaborative hub that you can use as a single source of truth when coordinating the various innovation activities occurring throughout your company. With our all-in-one software, you can develop individual innovation skills, foster a culture of innovation, oversee projects and set up a variety of mechanisms to manage your innovation portfolio.

Ready to innovate? Schedule a personal demo today.