The Starter’s Handbook on Innovation Management

Discover the key success factors for groundbreaking innovation management. Understand how to create outstanding ideas and implement them successfully. Learn the difference between developing incremental innovation and disruptive innovation. Get an overview of cutting edge innovation tools and innovation processes. Our starter’s guide to innovation management will enable you to launch your innovation projects as smoothly as possible.

What is innovation management?

Definition of Innovation Management

The course of the innovation process – starting with trend analysis, brainstorming and idea generation in the early phase of innovation – the so-called “fuzzy front-end of innovation” – to the succesful introduction of a new product or service – is called innovation management.

The way innovation management is approached has changed dramatically in recent years: In order to stay competitive, companies must increasingly be able

at the same time. The importance of innovation for SMEs is also growing: Small and medium companies need to be able to manage change and innovation successfully in order to stay competitive.

Innolytics® empowers enterprises worldwide to jumpstart innovation management. The Innolytics® Innovation Software allows you to establish a successful innovation management process globally considered to be best in class. Innolytics® will enable you to set up corporate innovation labs and measure innovation activities quickly. Innolytics® Innovation Software is free for up to 15 users.


The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Managing Innovation

In our many years of practice, we have again and again discussed crucial questions raised by companies and innovation managers. The five most important ones are listed here.

Why is Innovation Management so Important?

Innovation is one of the most important drivers of competition. Trends such as digitalization and the digital transformation of markets require the development of different types of innovations: for example, organizational innovationprocess innovationproduct development, and the introduction of service innovations. The development of disruptive innovation is a big challenge in innovation management.

What does an innovation manager do?

An innovation manager organizes, structures, and monitors the innovation process of a company. He or she ensures that enough ideas for strategically important search fields are generated and that these are continuously implemented. By taking actions to develop the innovation culture, innovation managers help to increase the innovation capability and, thus, the competitiveness of companies.

How do you Find the Best Ideas?

Companies evaluate ideas according to various criteria such as customer benefit, sales potential, feasibility, and strategic fit. In the idea evaluation phase, management decides which criteria are particularly important for a concrete innovation project. The more advanced a project is in the innovation process of innovation management, the more critical rational evaluation criteria become to help with implementation.

How do you Design a Successful Innovation Management Process?

In innovation management, there is no standard process but a multitude of different approaches. However, they all have a common approach: First, organizations identify opportunities for innovation. This is followed by idea generation and idea evaluation. Ideas and concepts with the highest potential for success are transferred into an innovation roadmap and implemented.

The illustration shows the structure and the different stages of an innovation process that is used in corporate innovation management.

How do you Manage Innovation Successfully? 

This illustration shows success factors of innovation management: regular scouting of opportunities, an innovation roadmap, committed employees and structured implementation.Successful innovation management includes

  • the evaluation of trends and technologies,
  • the analysis of hidden customer needs,
  • a structured approach to idea generation,
  • and the implementation of innovation projects.

By measuring innovation success, organizations monitor their progress in successfully implementing their innovation strategy.

What are new approaches to innovation management?

Managing innovation successfully requires new approaches besides the traditional innovation process:

An important focus is on the development of the innovation culture and the increase of the innovation capability of organizations.

The Different Stages of Innovation

Innovation management supports innovation in the various phases: From the creative phase – the so-called “Fuzzy Front End of Innovation” – to the execution-oriented phase of implementation.

  • Stage of ideation: Various creativity techniques are used for idea generation. Methods such as design thinking also help in the early stage. In addition, companies often promote the early stages of innovation management through idea competitions and certain forms of teamwork.

  • Idea development stage: On the way from the initial idea to prototyping, companies often rely on innovation software: teams with different professional skills and thinking styles deepen ideas together by bringing in different perspectives.

  • Stage of innovation implementation: In addition to the standard innovation processes, a number of agile project management methods have been established in recent years. For example, in the development of digital innovations, companies rely on methods such as SCRUM. State-of-the-art innovation software supports companies in all phases of innovation.

Success in the various stages is largely determined by the innovation culture and the ability of organizations to overcome barriers to creativity and innovation.

Cutting-edge Tools for Managing Innovation

New innovation management approaches and tools have been established in recent years. Innovation processes such as the Stage-Gate Process, conventional idea management systems, and the continuous improvement process are increasingly enhanced by methodologies such as innovation labslean innovationOpen Innovationinnovation challenges, and agile project management. Here is a brief overview.

With its breakthrough innovation management software, Innolytics® enables companies to analyze business trends, start highly effective innovation projects, promote customer-driven innovation, and implement a continuous improvement program.


The Building Blocks of a Highly Effective Innovation Management System

The illustration shows three important elements of innovation management and their relation to each other: the innovation strategy, the innovation culture, and innovation projects.An innovation management system describes all coordinated activities of companies and organizations with which the innovation strategy is to be implemented. It consists of three main components: the innovation strategy, the innovation culture, and innovation projects.

An innovation management system is aligned with the innovation strategy. Such a strategy determines which concrete innovation goals a company wants to achieve. In addition, search fields for innovation are defined.

  1. The innovation strategy and the search fields are defined in the first step.
  2. Innovation projects for the different business areas of a company are derived from this.
  3. The innovation projects are implemented with the help of innovation processes, whereby the processes and structures are adapted to the respective search fields.

An innovation process for the development of digital business models follows a different logic than a process for continuous improvement or product development.

The innovation culture of a company promotes the efficient implementation of an innovation roadmap and innovation projects . It is not an aim in itself but creates the right framework conditions for the innovation management system.

In an innovation management system, strategy, projects, and culture are interrelated. If the innovation strategy changes, new projects become necessary, which in turn require different structures. Other projects, such as the development of digital business models, also require a different culture of innovation.

A Typical Innovation Management Mistake You Definitely Want to Avoid

Until today, the concept of innovation management is strongly influenced by process-driven approaches, which mainly focus on the establishment of innovation processes, the definition of roles as well as goals and measurement procedures. This is where there is great potential for mistakes that can hamper innovation management!

The so-called Stage-Gate process, which companies often use in various variations to manage innovations, provides a clear process from idea generation to implementation using several Stages and Gates. But watch out! In view of trends such as digital change, static processes often no longer meet the requirements of modern innovation management.

The originator of the Stage-Gate process, Robert M. Cooper, identified this challenge in 1994 and further developed the concept of the Stage-Gate process according to the four F’s concept:

  • fluid and adaptable
  • fuzzy gates
  • focused
  • flexible

In 2014 he defined the requirements for a Next Generation Idea-to-Launch System: “Adaptive and Flexible” and “Accelerated”.

Especially in complex projects such as the development of innovative technologies, processes will continue to play an important role in the future. However, conventional innovation processes are not always sufficient for the development of digital innovations and radical innovation. If the innovation process is too rigid, instead of promoting innovation, it can even stifle innovation!

Innolytics® Managing Director Dr. Jens-Uwe Meyer writes in his paper “he innovative capability of companies”: The same management methods that lead incremental innovation projects to success may lead to the failure of innovation projects with a higher degree of innovation.

The Advantages of Using Innovation Software

To simplify the administration of the innovation process, companies rely on the implementation of idea management software, continuous improvement software and innovation management software. State-of-the-art innovation management software is often integrated into a company’s intranet, supports methods such as open innovation, and offers possibilities for collaboration.

The innovation management software of Innolytics AG supports companies in establishing a cutting-edge innovation management system:

  • Search fields derived from a company’s innovation strategy can be defined and communicated.

  • In the early stages of innovation management, search fields, customer problems, and trends can be discussed and analyzed through social collaboration.

  • In the early stages of innovation management, search fields, customer problems, and trends can be discussed and analyzed through social collaboration.

  • In the implementation phase, ideas can be assigned milestones, roadmaps, and different roles (e.g., responsible person or idea sponsor).

  • Companies can set up an innovation monitoring system in which innovation management experts can keep an eye on the most important key performance indicators.

  • By integrating customers into the development process, developments can be realized close to the customer.

  • The innovation management software supports the establishment and development of innovation networks.

The Innolytics® innovation software is permanently free for up to 15 users.

Find out about the Innolytics Innovation Software now!

How Innovation Management Supports Product DevelopmentService Innovation, and Organizational Innovation

A structured approach to innovation management supports both product development and the development of service innovations. Through ideation and creativity workshops, ideas are generated, which are then implemented step by step in several stages.

The improvement of processes in an enterprise aims at increasing the efficiency of processes and procedures. This includes the optimization of production processes as well as the creation of a corporate culture that promotes and accelerates innovations.

One of the most effective methods in innovation management has proven to be the analysis of innovation capability: Barriers in the innovation process and in the innovation culture are analyzed through a scientifically based employee survey. On the basis of such an analysis, measures can be developed to adapt innovation management individually to the situation and challenges of a company.

The Differences Between Closed and Open Innovation

In innovation management, a fundamental distinction can be made between different strategies. Closed Innovation relies on internal resources as well as employees and ideas from the company itself. Closed Innovation is related to idea management and the continuous improvement process. Closed Innovation is often supported by idea management software.

Open Innovation and co-creation, on the other hand, rely on external input and know-how. The innovation process is opened. The article “Why Open Innovation?” describes the advantages of this approach. Innolytics AG and Munich International Trade Fairs jointly operate an Open Innovation Community: the ISPO OPEN INNOVATION platform, on which tens of thousands of athletes support the innovation management of companies with their ideas and suggestions.

The Trend in Innovation Management: The Use of Open Innovation

The best-known advantages of Open Innovation are the shared use of resources and the inclusion of experience from outside the industry for innovation management projects. This has an impact on many areas and processes in an organization:

  • Time to market: The time from product development to market launch

  • Risk to market: The development risk is reduced by joint developments.

  • Fit to market: Information about customer needs is optimally linked with solution information.

Innolytics AG has many years of expertise in setting up an innovation management system that includes both closed and open innovation. The Innolytics® innovation management software supports companies throughout the entire innovation process: from the analysis of innovation capability and structures to trend scouting, the analysis of customer needs, and the generation of ideas to innovation monitoring.

Jumpstart Your Innovation Management with Innolytics®

Innolytics® Innovation supports companies in effectively overcoming barriers to creativity and innovation. Our web-based software tool enables enterprises worldwide to manage change and innovation successfully and to set up a state-of-the-art innovation management systems.

Start by creating your copy of the free Innolytics® innovation software. In the basic version, the Innolytics® innovation management software is permanently free for up to 15 users! In the fee-based professional edition, you get additional workflows like technology management, the analysis of customer needs, and agile project management.