This week InnovationManagement spoke with Eva Diedrichs, senior consultant at A.T. Kearney, Top Management Consulting. Learn more about their IMP³rove program and the rewards of helping thousands of small and medium sized enterprises, investors in innovation projects as well as the public sector find innovation success.

What is innovation management to you?

At A.T. Kearney we have a very simple definition of innovation management: It includes everything that is needed to successfully drive the commercialization of the right ideas in order to drive profitable growth. The focus is on the sustainable business results from innovation management. This requires the clear definition of an innovation strategy, the development of an innovation driven organization and corporate culture, the systematic management of the entire innovation life cycle for short time-to-profit, not just a short time-to-market. And finally leveraging the innovation-enabling factors such as IT, knowledge management, HR management,  controlling etc. In the “A.T. Kearney House of Innovation” these dimensions are described in their interdependencies and their focus on contributing to the company’s competitiveness and sustainable growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Working within A.T. Kearney’s Innovation and R&D practice means managing projects that offer space for innovation as successfully commercialized new ideas. With that we add value to our clients. Currently, I am managing the project “IMP³rove” – the European Commission’s initiative to improving innovation management performance within small and medium sized enterprises. There, we have established with a wide international network of innovation professionals an approach to improving the competitiveness of enterprises by better innovation management. The “A.T. Kearney House of Innovation” ensures that IMP³rove takes a holistic approach to innovation management, and creates a common “language” for innovation management. Almost 3000 small and medium sized enterprises and more than 400 consultancies focusing on this SME market segment have benefitted already from IMP³rove. A collection of 50 success stories highlight the impact that IMP³rove offers. Beneficiaries of IMP³rove are besides small and medium sized enterprises the other players in the value chain as well as investors financing innovation projects and the public sector. They all receive valuable insights into the barriers and drivers of innovation success. The IMP³rove benchmarking, its databases, knowledge and experience developed across Europe and beyond is a unique source for anyone interested in innovation and innovation management.

And the most frustrating parts?

Seeing many managers caught in their overload of the daily business. They cannot escape the trap of routine. Innovation by definition is something new. However, the successful commercialization of new ideas needs to  become a routine within the enterprises. With the “A.T. Kearney House of Innovation”, the IMP³rove Approach and access to a qualified SME consultancy experts we offer a way out of this trap.

What’s your next big challenge?

Consultants are often accused of providing advice but not taking over responsibility for their recommendations. With IMP³rove we now would like to demonstrate that a publicly funded project that has generated impact and value already during the testing can be developed into a sustainable offering on a profitable basis. We are currently working on establishing IMP³rove as a sustainable business and invite innovation professionals to benefit from and contribute to that European approach to innovation management support for enterprises, financial investors, academia and policy makers. Our aim is to establish IMP³rove powered innovation eco-systems where the different stakeholders benefit from companies’ increased competitiveness and sustainable growth.

About Eva Diedrichs

Dr Eva Diedrichs is senior consultant at A.T. Kearney, Top Management Consulting. She is Core Team member of the European Innovation and R&D Management Practice there. She is the responsible project manager for the European Commission’s flagship project on innovation management called “IMP³rove”. She has managed numerous innovation management projects in various industries such as pharmaceutical industry, medical device sector, service industries and in the aero space and defense sector. She published several articles and monographs on innovation management, benchmarking, change management and strategic topics. She co-authored a book on core competencies and gave several speeches on success factors of innovation management at international conferences. She holds a PhD from the University of Bamberg, Germany and was a lecturer at St. Thomas College, St. Paul MN, USA.