Innovation Process Management
There are no rules around innovation, except one: CIOs must innovate. But dilemma the face: How to maintain an innovative IT infrastructure that generates value for the business without breaking a tight budget. Yet they know that the economic slump is no excuse to delay important innovation projects, and that the actions being IT leaders, they take now can help businesses emerge from the downturn able to compete—and grow. They are left with no choice but to embrace Innovation Process Management (IPM) and embrace it with strategic thought-point.
Innovation Management is a key business process with the strategic purpose of delivering 'the competitive advantage'. The results of managed innovation, be it technology innovation or process innovation, are easy to discern in the successful products of today. These are products that we initially did not even know we wanted, but can't possibly do without now. These products are also the ones that display 'commercial longevity' despite fierce market conditions. At the core of it, innovation ultimately means only one thing, i.e., 'applied creativity' but it is nowhere near to what is understood as a 'quick fix' solution.
Innovation, predominately, is the result of highly structured creative thinking, pragmatic planning and strategic alignment to the business vision.
Better to wake up to the reality that innovation is a vital ingredient to the success of any business and ultimately it keeps you ahead of your competitors. Wake up to the reality that new technologies, new products and new services provide the company with far more business opportunities than by any other business mean. However, in order to achieve this goal, you require an organization, which is highly competitive, and have a crystal clear vision of the road ahead and the ability to strategically manage change.
'Innovation is not just about having good ideas, it's about managing new ideas, improving old ideas, understanding and anticipating markets and technologies'.
It is now more important than ever to deliver products and services that provide genuine competitive advantage. It's simply no longer good enough to have a kind of 'me-too' product portfolio if your commercial expectations remain at a much higher level.
Though many companies do attempt to have a solid approach to creativity and innovation, too few actually focus on it as 'a single unified function'. Instead, most companies seem to hold many separate activities in isolation, such as conducting brainstorming sessions, trying pilot projects and campaigns, and maintaining vague communication with the market, but simply, essentially they keep fingers crossed that somehow all of it would come together in the end.
While this may have worked for some companies in the past, it is absolutely too far from the ideal way of performing this important task. Instead, the best way to accomplish this is to have a set of innovation activities which integrates the activity into the regular cycle of your business.
Faced with quicksilver economy world-wide in recent years, when companies can easily and speedily match their competitors, when any marketing advantage can dissolve in a blink, it has become extremely hard and hard to sustain any competitive advantage, if you have one.
The result is that you need 'a constant stream of innovations' so that you can always maintain an edge. But most companies struggle with systematizing innovation. The usual approach is the equivalent of football's pass and a prayer – the chief executive officer asks a few senior people to make sure the company innovates, and hopes for the best. Instead, you must build a structure for constant innovation within your organization.
You must be wise enough to quickly spot any one of the below given symptoms of things going awry on innovation front:
- On-n-Off type of Innovation. It only means that your innovations are occurring in episodes, not regularly. Sometimes they are on, sometimes they are off.
- Undertaking Innovation process from scratch. It is about the tendency of company to act as if they are the first to ever undertake innovation. You can imagine –they invent a process as if nobody on the planet has ever innovated, which you wouldn't do for any other process.
- Critical resources are held hostage. Backing up innovative product projects is a necessity, but if you are allowing the existing businesses to determine where people and funds will be allocated, you're not going to enable and support innovation. Rather, you're going to get more of the existing businesses, because existing businesses usually play defence, regularly hogging money, people and other resources. They take the oxygen out of it.
- Innovations been force-fitted into existing structures. For any serious innovation, you require new processes, because innovation is highly unlikely to be well-served by the existing organizational structure. Let the innovation determine the business model you will use.
- Applying the existing-business criteria to innovation. It means that your company is failing to endorse the fact that innovations are new and uncertain, which means the criteria used to judge them can't be the same as for the existing business.
- Insisting on the venture meeting its plan. Hardly ever in years of innovation, has an initiative worked out as it initially was planned. Even the greatest ideas often started as something entirely different.
On the brighter side, ideas are a steady source of fuel for innovation and ideas come from everywhere – primarily from your employees and business partners, but also from customers, consultants, academia, and even competitors. But most companies actually lack a formal process for determining the value of any given idea and moving the idea from concept-to-reality , in a systematic, timely, cost-effective way. As a result, many opportunities for innovation simply slip through the cracks, along with their potential for success.
This is exactly where Innovation Process Management comes in the picture and helps companies to:
- Capture, classify, share and evaluate or rank all new ideas – quickly and actively.
- Collaborate teams & people on critical decisions about risks, benefits, and strategic value of potential ideas.
- Build transparency of the process and generate critical Business or Innovation Insights
- Creating dynamic metrics for measuring innovation
At technological front, an effective Innovation Process Management (IPM) solution, must:
- Provide a systematic, intuitive methodology to foster innovation by capturing, evaluating, and developing ideas from inception to completion
- Integrated collaboration tools & interfaces to allow people everywhere in the organization to easily find and share data, collaborating whenever and wherever they need to
- General office productivity tools
- Integrated Project Management tools, to facilitate you at every stage of innovation process management
An ideal IPM solution would let you effectively integrate project management, portfolio management, and above all, total idea management. It would also allow global & local teams to efficiently share knowledge and stay focused on value-added activities, instead of reinventing the wheel.
IPM connects the right ideas, the right markets, and the right resources.
For any serious Innovation Process Management attempt to be successful, it is very important to leverage real-time business intelligence. You must develop systems to provide business leaders with business-analytics dashboards that clearly display the performance, profitability & cost metrics for all key innovation projects going on.
It is extremely imperative to re-organize priorities as per economic conditions. It's always advisable to adjust the company's technology-roadmap, so that valuable resources are spent on the most necessary projects only, while delaying expensive initiatives that can be postponed.
Evaluation of Innovation : This is an important and yet all too frequently overlooked aspect of the innovation management process. When the best ideas have been combined, fine-tuned, and polished, it is time to subject them to evaluation based on peer reviews. This will help you to ensure that any ideas that have a promising appearance but that are poorly thought out will be identified before resources, funding and time have been poured into them. It will also help you to select the ideas with the greatest potential from among several that appear equally capable of being successful. It is cheap to change your innovation at this stage compared to later stages. Each step you take forward will cost you more...
IPM would allow you to target areas that are most necessary for innovating in the future. It helps you to get rid of procrastination-tendencies. Sometime, it requires you to do a lot of upfront planning and to take the steps to upgrade your systems without affecting productivity. Since IT is the backbone of Innovation Process Management, you must seek to achieve the streamlining of your IT infrastructure and applications, as early as possible.
Last but not the least, please don't forget to expand your presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc. These can hugely enable the company & client collaboration.