This week InnovationManagement spoke to Braden Kelley – innovation expert, consultant, author and tremendously popular blogger. Learn more about his perspective on innovation management and even get a sneak peak into his new book.

What is innovation management to you?

Many people equate innovation management with idea management, and I believe that this does great disservice to this emerging field of management specialization. True innovation management encompasses more than just managing ideas. Sure ideas are important, but ideas are the easy part. To me innovation management is an emerging management specialization, similar to human resources that has many responsibilities, including:

Providing a flow of consumer and customer insights

  1. Working across silos to extract and frame innovation challenges that can be solved either inside or outside the organization or through a partnership of internal and external efforts
  2. Managing the idea flow of potentially complete solutions, idea fragments, and partial solutions that must be connected together to provide a successful solution in the marketplace
  3. Working with the marketing and other departments to manage, facilitate, and encourage the internal and external connections necessary to drive innovation forward
  4. Working with other departments to ensure the necessary labor flexibility is available to allow the right people to be staffed on the right innovation projects
  5. Communicating the progress and results of a portfolio of innovation projects
  6. Capturing and driving continuous learning into the organization’s innovation processes

What’s the most satisfying part in your job?

The most satisfying part of my job is extracting and sharing key insights from the world and data all around us, in order to provoke new thinking in the minds of the clients and audiences that I work with and in the minds of those that consume the nearly 2,000 articles already on The goal of the blog and of pretty much everything that I do is to make innovation and marketing insights accessible for the greater good. I truly believe that as a society, the better we can get at providing the solutions that people need, the less waste of human and natural resources we will have as a result.

And the most frustrating parts?

What’s most frustrating to me is that so many people have started throwing around the term innovation, in so many different contexts, that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. As a result, every speech or client engagement has to begin by defining what ‘innovation’ means. Because of the confusion, every organization must define what innovation means for them, what kinds of innovation they are looking for as an organization, and then communicate that out to people. Otherwise, even people in the same organization won’t be able to communicate and speak the same language (or achieve good results). I’m not sure how to fix it. Maybe we need a new word.

What’s your next big challenge?

Challenge is good. Challenges help to drive innovation. There are a lot challenges in the innovation management arena. In many ways this emerging profession is a ship without a rudder sailing through foggy seas. Everybody is trying to figure out how to successfully innovate, and how to do so in a repeatable fashion. My next big challenge is to do what I can to identify where the emerging field of innovation management is going, to provide new thinking to help the profession grow and gain acceptance, to continue to raise awareness, and to identify new insights and best practices that people will find valuable in a sequel to my new book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire. So, I would love to hear your thoughts on what’s needed in innovation management, and maybe we can all crystalize things together.

About Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is passionate about innovation and helping companies increase their revenue and cut their costs. When not working with clients maximizing profits, the author of “Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire” and more than 400 online articles runs the popular multiple author innovation blog – – home to nearly two thousand articles and video interviews with luminaries like Dean Kamen, Kevin Roberts, John Hagel III, Judy Estrin, Roger Martin, Dan Pink, and more. And last but not least, he is an innovation leader on Twitter (@innovate) with thousands of hard-earned followers.

PDF download

Braden Kelley has provided a free sample chapter of his new book for InnovationManagement readers. Thanks!