Proper innovation management keeps the engine running. The fuel for its engine is ideas while its power is on the execution of projects that deliver business value.
If you want to get started with innovation management, here are some tips that you can incorporate into your innovation process:
1. Have a clear definition of your innovation strategy
When it comes to innovation management, it’s vital that you have a clear and goal-oriented innovation strategy.
As with any strategy, you need to set clear and smart goals for your innovation process. When setting these goals, you need to take into account the strategic problems that you want to solve and the opportunities that come your way.
In addition, you also need to connect your innovation management strategy with your company’s BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
For example, our BHAG is to execute one million innovation missions by 2025. To achieve that, we continue to innovate and help more organizations find success with innovation through our various services including innovation consultancy, innovation software, and innovation training.
2. Connect your innovation strategy to the business strategy
There are many companies that are innovating well, though many of them are not as famous as Tesla.
As you may know already, Tesla is one of the hottest innovative companies to this day. They released their first electric sports car in 2008 and after nine years, they’re already one of the most valuable automakers in the United States.
Be that as it may, you will probably find it a bit absurd if one day they announce their newest, touch-screen, cutting edge, dishwasher and dryer (unless it’s inside one of their Tesla car models).
That was clearly an exaggerated example — but the point here is that before you start an innovation project, check first if it fits with your company’s business goals and strategies. A good innovation management strategy has to be aligned with your company’s business strategy.
It definitely helps if your organization has internal innovation sprint masters who guide the innovation process from start to finish. These are the people who validate the ideas and whether or not they should be elaborated on and further investigated.
3. Establish your innovation metrics to determine outcomes
Before starting out, make sure to establish innovation metrics in which you will be measuring how successful your projects will be. Although metrics are usually numbers, you also have to look beyond and see the important information behind those digits.
Some of the metrics that companies use include:
- New products launched in a certain amount of time
- Sales and profitability from the new products
- The number of new innovation projects started
When finding out the key metrics for your own organization, ensure that these indicators are the ones that will help you move closer to your goals. Don’t focus on the metrics that are “easy to measure”. Instead, find those that are important.
Note that having the right metrics will help you ensure that you’re moving in the right direction. It will also help in making sure that you’re allocating the right resources to the right projects. Furthermore, they will let you see how effective your innovation activities are.
4. Make use of innovation management software
An innovation management platform like Accept Mission will help you handle the whole innovation process painlessly. Basically, it’s a business application that delivers business value and will help you measure and optimize the performance of your innovation projects.
Under the hood, you will find features that will help you with:
- Collection of ideas
- Selecting the best ideas
- Engagement with customers, employees, and the market
- Managing innovation portfolio
- Measuring success
- Optimizing the innovation process and business value
For example, Accept Mission has an innovation dashboard that will tell you how your organization’s innovation projects are doing, along with other relevant information.
The bottom line is that using an innovation management platform will definitely help you in overseeing the whole innovation process of your company.
5. Enhance your ideation strategy and organization
Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation. Without new ideas, no innovation can happen. That’s why ideation fuels innovation.
However, the ideation strategy must also be satisfactory. If the ideation is poorly executed, bad ideas are born. Bad ideas are the perfect recipe for failed innovation projects. What you should be after are good ideas.
On the other hand, good ideas may not always be that obvious. That’s why you need to dig deeper than the first “good” or “profitable” idea that you can think of. For that, idea management tools and solutions can help.
For instance, it’s intuitive for people to know to avoid bad ideas. This leads to some contributors fearing the judgment of others as their ideas may be considered “bad”. In this case, enabling contributors to pitch in their ideas “anonymously” is a good success factor to consider.
That is why one of Accept Mission’s key gamification features is enabling anyone to go “undercover” on an innovation campaign (internally called “missions”). Aside from that, users can work with timers and goals, and earn experience points for their contribution.
As for organizing ideas, Accept Mission has an inbox feature that will enable you to categorize ideas easily using subjects. It’s like a traditional inbox with the sole purpose of collecting as many ideas as possible and allowing you to arrange them however you please.
6. Focus on building an innovation engine
As with any other type of project, it’s tempting to simply settle down with innovation projects once or twice a year. Many people think that it’s already enough as innovation projects can take months.
The good news is that there’s always a better way. After all, that’s what innovation is about. The key here is for your organization to focus on building an innovation engine that’s always running.
Here at Accept Mission, we call it an “innovation management framework”. It’s a sustainable innovation system that’s fueled by ideas and problems that go through a filter (which helps determine the best ones to execute).
Through this method, you will be able to build a way of working through your innovation projects. This helps you avoid running around doing a lot of things that will make you look busy with work that doesn’t have enough concrete value.
7. Build a culture of innovation
The problem with most organizations is that many of them don’t take innovation seriously. The biggest struggle relates to how hierarchically oriented some of the managers and leaders are. Many of them believe that innovation is only reserved for top-level executives.
It may not be that big of a problem for small companies and startups. But larger organizations have more people where many of them don’t even know each other. In addition, there will be a need for an ever-increasing number of systems and tools to help the company grow faster.
The key here is that all members and employees of the organization should be aware of how important innovation is and how it benefits the company in general. That’s why those at the top should prioritize building this kind of innovation culture.
Another thing that can help is building a culture where problems and ideas, even radical ones, are embraced and accepted. Employees and members may think of better ideas when they’re facing a problem. These ideas may prove to be keys to successful innovation in the future.
8. Combine reactive and proactive innovation
When organizations only get new ideas from their engagement with customers and suppliers, that is called “reactive innovation”. For many, this is already more than enough. Well, at least there’s still some innovation that happens.
But if you want your organization to become truly successful, you need to focus on both proactive and reactive innovations. Proactive is the opposite of reactive. You’re not merely waiting for some ideas to come down from the mouths of those you engage with.
When you’re practicing proactive innovation, that means you ask the right questions to the target groups that you want to include. This is when you ask your customers to think with you on generating new ideas for new products.
When possible, put more focus on proactive innovations as they will be the ones that will create more business value in the long run. Usually, when you receive inspiration through reactive innovation, it usually comes in the form of feedback.
9. Appropriately distribute resources to support your objectives.
Because innovation has a lot of variables, it is critical for you to choose the appropriate areas that need your full concentration and resources to achieve your objectives. Assess your resources, both physical and financial assets, and put them to the best possible use.
Finding an ideal and optimum balance is the key to managing your innovation portfolio.
While expanding businesses may seem to get you ready for greater risks and more radical prospects, you should distribute your resources based on your:
- Strategic interests
- Specific skills
- And portfolio management guidelines, particularly your investment term, target returns, and risk tolerance.
10. Enhance the timeline from concept to implementation
Businesses that excel in reducing the time it takes from concept to implementation achieve substantial innovation results. Bulky processes and coordinated schedules impede the process of performing market research and generating a commercial product.
You must master the execution phase, which is generally the longest in the project life cycle and involves completing all deliverables, tracking their progress, and reporting to project stakeholders.
Once you’ve figured out how to successfully control your execution schedule, you can:
- Detect glitches early on, which makes course correction simple
- Sustain the morale of your team
- Finish the project on budget and on schedule
- Satisfy stakeholders with the project’s overall development
11. Recognize your employees’ core competencies
Your workers’ core competencies are the elements and areas in which they typically thrive. But just because they are good at something does not mean it is noteworthy.
And this is because their talents, skills, knowledge, and expertise may not always match the needs, wants, and expectations of your target audience. However, you can turn these competencies around and use them to your advantage.
In some cases, our employees possess skills that can be useful in dealing with and resolving situations that would otherwise result in unfavorable outcomes if ignored.
Remember that the ability to orient, organize, hone, and integrate these skills around a market solution should be treated with caution and nurtured as a critical corporate competency.
12. Match your organizational structure with your innovation systems.
The structure is concerned with an organization’s systems and business processes, whereas competence is primarily concerned with capabilities. Controlling innovation is crucial, as well as the framework that makes it possible.
This is why organizational structures have to complement innovation systems. After all, an organization is also a sum of its parts.
With an organizational structure that matches every person and department to a certain task, the better the team’s ability is to improve the overall efficiency of the business together with the creation and development of significant ideas.
If employee recommendations are handled well and seriously by executives and other managers, novel innovations can take place. Otherwise, many ideas may end up never being heard or will be dismissed without a fair hearing.
The fewer roadblocks between innovation and your organizational structure, the better.
Innovation management and technology
Fortunately, many of the tips you have read earlier can be integrated with technology. For example, once you have established your innovation metrics and key indicators, good innovation software will help you track those down and let you know how you are doing.
This can be in the form of a dashboard, like what Accept Mission has. The dashboard within the platform is capable of showing you the most important metrics that you have as well as a live data connector for dashboard tools like Power BI.
Another example is how having a platform will enable you to save time from collecting ideas and organizing them. With technology, you will have to collect the ideas yourself from different channels. Organizing them is another work of its own. Combine this and you will run out of time.
When the right people and technology are involved in the development, execution, assessment, and control of the organization’s resources and capabilities, the organization produces more business value.
As such, innovation management improves, and all the changes necessary to foster innovation happen quicker and easier.
The end result that everyone hopes to achieve with innovation is to contribute to the company’s success and continuity. Innovation management platforms like Accept Mission play a big role in that.
If you want to level up the way you manage your innovation, sign up here for a 30-day trial to see how much easier and more fun your work gets with the use of your platform.