New approaches to a successful innovation process

The innovation process often fails due to the implementation of ideas in practice. What is the reason for this? What barriers prevent an innovation process from operating efficiently? And how can companies develop innovation processes that fit their own strategic challenges? Hopefully, this article will answer these questions for you.

You can find out the role the innovation process plays in a company by our innovation consulting and in our free study “Think Further through Innovation Management”. You will learn practical examples from established and successful companies such as Nestlé and Vodafone. And you will find out what role the innovation process plays in increasing your innovation skills.

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Definition: Innovation Process

An innovation process is an organisational method that divides the uncertainties within an innovation project into clearly subdivided steps and decision points in order to drive development forward efficiently, while at the same time avoiding potential risks.

Dr. Jens-Uwe Meyer, Managing Director of Innolytics®, writes in his scientific paper ‘Companies’ Ability to Innovate’: “Especially in complex projects such as the development of innovative technologies, processes are of great importance. For example, in the 1960s, NASA developed pioneering innovation processes such as Phased Project Planning to enable the management of development projects.”

The NASA innovation process served primarily for control: the clear division of the process into different phases was intended to prevent errors from being transferred from one phase to the next. Methods such as the Stage Gate model developed by Robert G. Cooper adopted the NASA method and developed it further. The model envisages dividing the innovation process into stages and gates: The development takes place in different stages, whereby the gates are decision points.

Criticism of the classic innovation process

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In recent years, so-called “linear innovation processes” have increasingly come under criticism. Innolytics® Managing Director Dr. Jens-Uwe Meyer: “One reason could be that classic processes adopt a linear process from the search for opportunities to their implementation, which is not always the case in practice. The same management methods that lead incremental innovation projects to success might possibly cause innovation projects with a higher degree of innovation to fail. Correspondingly, companies seem to have a tendency towards incremental innovation.”

In the free Innolytics® study “Think Further in Innovation Management” you will learn more about how companies can align their innovation process with different types of innovation (incremental innovations, radical innovations, digital innovations, etc.).

Especially for the development of higher degrees of innovation – radical or disruptive innovations – the classical innovation process is only of limited suitability. In his book “Radical Innovation“, Dr. Jens-Uwe Meyer presents the model of the Innovation Greenhouses, in which teams develop new ideas outside the traditional innovation process.

Drive innovation processes through to implementation

A trendy, high-turnover product is to be developed. Up to now, everything has been thought of and duly considered in the innovation process: problems and needs have been analysed and the company’s possibilities defined. Numerous ideas have been developed. For weeks now, several concepts have been lying in the drawer that only need to be put into practice. But that’s where they stay. For years, until another company suddenly has the same idea – and realises it.

Use of Innovation Greenhouses in the innovation process

To prevent the innovation process from failing due to implementation, the method of Innovation Greenhouses comes into play. As in a greenhouse, incubators promote the innovation process and its realisation. Concepts that are ready for implementation no longer end up in the drawer, but are driven forward to market launch. Ideas can ripen and ultimately bear fruit that is actually profitable.

Special features of Innovation Greenhouses for the innovation process

Small, agile teams with intrinsically motivated employees act like independent startups. The innovation process can be significantly enhanced by tight deadlines and internal pitching. The establishment of an innovation culture within the company ensures the sustainability of innovations. Employees develop innovations with more passion, creativity, and energy.

An overview of the most important factors for a successful innovation process:

  • Identify market opportunities: Following an analysis of trends, customer needs, and business competencies, the innovation process will initially show how future offerings must be designed in order to create new markets.

  • Develop ideas: In the innovation process, new ideas for products, services, and business models are generated by applying creativity techniques and inspirations.

  • Putting together teams: Within the company, multidisciplinary start-up teams are formed that work autonomously with entrepreneurial thinking and acting.

  • Marketing ideas: In pitchings, management concepts have to be put to the test time and again. This encourages the development and maturation of the best ideas.

  • Rapid prototyping: Prototypes increase the speed of development and minimise the risk of errors. Consumer-oriented market tests and iterative development loops contribute to a fast optimisation of the innovation process.

  • Innovation culture: Team members are trained as innovation advisers. They learn to apply the innovation methods and pass on their know-how. The innovation process supports the establishment of an enterprise-wide innovation culture.

Support for your innovation process

The Innolytics® Innovation Cloud provides a set of tools for the development of different types of innovation:

  • Idea management software to collect employee ideas and successfully implement them
  • Analysis tools that measure the innovation culture of a company and the efficiency of innovation processes
  • Open Innovation Software to involve customers in the innovation process

Download your free study “Think Further in Innovation Management” (worth 178€) right now.

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