Innovation management: The six most important roles in the innovation process
In order for innovation management to be introduced and established sustainably in the company, different roles are required: Responsibles for the innovation process, innovation coaches, experts, method specialists, idea authors and submitters as well as experts. These six important roles ensure an lively innovation process in the companies innovation culture. The innovative ability of a company is positively influenced in the long term. In this article you will learn about the six most important roles in innovation management.
How clearly defined roles promote innovation management
Efficient innovation management can be recognized by the fact that it seems to work “by itself”. This seemingly automatic functioning is guaranteed by the fact that employees and managers at different locations of a company wll fulfil their roles. But this does not work on its own. The prerequisite for innovation management to function “by itself” is the clear definition of roles.
In our many years of activity in innovation consulting and digitisation consulting, as well as in our scientific research work, we have come across six main groups of persons in charge who contribute to anchoring an innovation process in innovation management on a sustainable basis.
These roles are not necessarily tied to different employees. For example, an innovation manager can be both an expert in a particular field and a method specialist. The point is that all roles are covered.
Role 1: Idea authors as drivers of innovation management
Anyone determined to submit ideas and further develop them into well-founded innovation concepts is the secret “star” of innovation management. Without an author of ideas, the innovation process would remain empty. The task of innovation management is therefore to support idea submitters and authors in the best possible way. All other roles listed in this article pursue this goal. Within an innovation process it is defined whether idea submitters submit their ideas anonymously or openly. And it is determined with which process the ideas are evaluated and finally rejected or accepted.
Role 2: Idea manager as the person responsible for the innovation process
Innovation managers are responsible for ensuring that the innovation process functions as efficiently as possible. To this end, they monitor the innovation process using various key figures. In addition, innovation managers make sure that the roles in innovation management are filled by employees from different areas and that these employees have the necessary resources to fulfil their role. The Innolytics® idea management software and innovation management software supports innovation managers in defining and long-term monitoring of the most important key figures for a company.
Role 3: Innovation coach as a supporter in innovation management
Innovation coaches are employees and managers who support idea authors with words and deeds. They are contact persons for questions and creative sparring partners for the development of ideas. Innovation coaches do not have the task of evaluating innovations – rather, they support the development of ideas. Innovation coaches ask critical questions and network idea authors with responsible experts. They motivate submitters and authors to further develop and pursue ideas. Innovation coaches can be colleagues from different departments. More important than professional training is empathy and the ability to support others.
Role 4: Experts in the innovation process
When developing ideas into innovation concepts, submitters of ideas have many questions: Is the idea technically feasible? Are there the appropriate materials? Where can market data be used to describe the target group for an innovation? How can sales be organised for innovation? Experts from the various specialist areas are available in innovation management to answer such questions. The innovation process determines whether idea authors can invite the experts directly or whether they can be addressed via the innovation manager.
Role 5: Specialists for innovation methods
Innovation management knows numerous methods: creativity techniques with which the process of idea generation and idea development can be promoted, methods for the development of digital business models or for agile project management. Specialists in innovation methods support idea submitters by passing on their knowledge and training employees. They give tips on how ideas can be further developed with the help of specific innovation methods. Method specialists have often acquired their knowledge in further education and seminars, sometimes also through self-study.
Role 6: Experts in innovation management
Experts have the task of using their expertise to evaluate the benefits and technical feasibility of ideas and innovation concepts. The task of an expert is demanding: it is easy to find arguments for why a new idea does not have the potential for mature innovation. It is much harder to evaluate the potential of an idea. What is behind the proposal? What would have to be changed for an idea to work? Has an author considered all the essential steps to turn an idea into a well-founded concept of innovation? Experts have the task of looking behind the scenes of first impressions. Well-founded expert opinions are characterised by the fact that at least as much work was invested in the evaluation of an idea as in its formulation.
Definition of roles with the help of innovation management software
The Innolytics® innovation management software allows to define different roles in the innovation process and to filter employees according to these roles. This gives innovation managers, managers and platform users a quick impression of the different roles represented at the various locations. The roles in the innovation process can be flexibly designed in the software. Thus, innovation managers have all the freedom to shape roles in innovation management and the innovation process.