Designing a successful innovation management process
One of the main tasks in innovation management is to set up an innovation management process and monitor the progress of innovation projects. There are countless pieces of advice on what a perfect innovation management process looks like. For example, DOMO Chemicals, an international medium-sized chemicals manufacturer, has established an innovation management process that suits the company well. But does this mean that the process is automatically suitable for other companies as well?
Only to a very limited extent. In business innovation, every company needs to develop the innovation management process that best fits its goals and framework conditions. There are five key questions that help you with this. You will be introduced to them in this article. In our free e-book “Create Outstanding Organizations” you will learn how to win high-value employee ideas and design processes to successfully implement these ideas.
Key question 1: What are the objectives of the innovation management process?
When establishing an innovation management process, many companies take a decisive step in the wrong direction: They start with the development of specific process stages without being aware of the objectives. What kind of innovations should the innovation process stimulate?
- Do you want to make product development more efficient?
- Is it the goal to establish a technology management?
- Should efficiency and quality be improved through a continuous improvement process (CIP)?
- Is it a question of developing innovative digital business models in the course of digitalization and digital disruption?
Depending on the goal and topic, the evaluation criteria and the stages of the process change:
- In technology management, for example, technologies go through the process steps of identification and analysis, evaluation, development of a sound concept for application, concept evaluation and roadmap. Evaluation criteria can include the economic perspective, the strategic perspective, the development perspective and the customer perspective.
- In order to bring improvement ideas and suggestions from the continuous improvement process and the idea management to successful implementation, the process stages could be opportunity analysis, idea and concept development, evaluation and prioritization and implementation.
- Digital business models and the development of digital innovations require different process steps that focus on prototype development and rapid customer feedback.
Companies often have more than one innovation management process. The development of ideas for internal improvement, product ideas or the design of digital business models are separated from each other. Furthermore, not all employees are equally involved in all processes. The Innolytics® innovation management software makes it possible to implement these innovation management processes, which are aligned to different requirements.
Key question 2: How agile does your innovation management process have to be?
Companies in dynamic markets face complex challenges: They have to develop the next generation of their products. At the same time they rethink their internal processes. In addition there is a strong need for the development of digital services and business models. When you develop a concept for your innovation process, you have to consider these different challenges of your organization.
The stage gate process developed by Robert G. Cooper has been rethought numerous times in order to catch up with the increasing dynamics of markets. How static or agile does your process have to be? While technological innovation still follows the stages and gates that are part of the stage gate process, the development of digital business models is much more agile.
You can either implement a fast track innovation process or start an innovation lab alongside to the existing innovation management process. The Innolytics® Idea management software and innovation management software offers you the tools to implement your innovation management process.
Key question 3: How closed or open do you want your innovation management process to be?
In innovation management there is a difference between closed innovation and open innovation. Closed innovation involves employees and staffers from different departments of your organization. By opening up the innovation process through co-creation and customer co-creation, you can include external experts and customers. Most of the companies we work with use closed innovation and open innovation at the same time. They start innovation challenges in order to gain customers ideas or they cooperate with universities.
Using the Innolytics® innovation management software you can involve customers at specific points of your innovation management process or you can conduct innovation challenges. You can build up an innovation network and even implement your own customer innovation platform. This gives you a high degree of flexibility when deciding about how open or closed your innovation management process should be.
Key question 4: How many resources do you have?
Your innovation management process supports you in efficiently using resources for innovation. But how many resources do you have? The development of an innovation process is significantly influenced by this question.
Suppose you have implemented CIP teams with CIP managers at multiple production sites. In addition, five employees are engaged in the area of trend analysis. And you have your own department for product development and technology management. You need a much more complex process than if your entire innovation team consists of three people who drive innovation alongside their main tasks.
In order to use your resources as efficiently as possible, we have compiled a checklist for you.
|Types of innovation||Is your innovation process intended to implement different types of innovation (improvements, new products, innovative marketing approaches, development of digital business models, technology management)?|
|Responsibilities||Are the people in charge of innovation and digitalization given time off for their tasks? Do they supervise topics full-time?|
|Overlaps||Can all types of innovation or topics be clearly separated from each other or can there be overlaps? (For example, does the development of a digital business model have an impact on product development?)|
|Role conflicts||Do employees in the company have several roles from which conflicts can arise? (e.g. CIP manager and person responsible for digitalization in one person)|
|Evaluation and decision criteria||Do you apply different evaluation criteria to the different fields of innovation and topics, which are necessary to make an optimal decision?|
The more often they have chosen “Yes”, the more the need for detailed rules increases. This helps to use resources as efficiently as possible. The more often you have selected “No”, the more it seems that you should establish a lean innovation process that focuses only on the most important stages.
Key question 5: How is the innovation management process supposed to influence the innovation culture?
The innovation culture plays an essential role in the development of an innovation management process. If the innovation culture is already established, a company already has a high degree of innovation capability. Employees are committed so that the innovation process primarily serves to structure incoming ideas as well as transparent evaluation and implementation. The dynamic innovation culture is the engine of idea generation, the process ensures the greatest possible efficiency.
If your innovation culture is less well-developed, a campaign-based approach is recommended: Questions are regularly addressed to employees, problems and challenges are described and ideas are actively called for. These innovation challenges have a limited period of time, usually between four and six weeks, after which the best ideas are selected and implemented.
You may also have an innovation culture that focuses on problem analysis. Although employees are very good at identifying existing weaknesses, they lack sufficient solution ideas. In this case, it is advisable to precede the actual idea phase with a structured process of problem analysis and evaluation. The intensive examination of a particular problem and the discussions often lead to innovative solutions that arise from the discussion.
The innovation management process and the innovation culture are interrelated. A process that is too complex can be harmful for the commitment of employees and thus for the culture of innovation. On the other hand, a culture of innovation promotes the successful performance of a process. Both are mutually dependent.
Innolytics® software supports the development of a perfectly customized innovation management process
The Innolytics® idea management software and innovation management software is designed to implement different innovation processes to meet the challenges of enterprises. The step-by-step development of an innovation process can also be configured: For example, new processes and decision steps can be integrated into an innovation process using drag and drop. The Innolytics® software is thus a highly flexible instrument for the idea and innovation management of companies as well as for setting up an innovation process.