This week InnovationManagement spoke with Adam Hartung, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, a Chicago based firm focused on innovation management yielding profitable high growth for clients. Learn more about why innovation management is critically important for companies to thrive. And what are the rewards and challenges of educating leaders in innovation implementation?

What is innovation management to you?

Innovation management is unleashing the ideas and capabilities of an organization so it can bring to market what people want that add value in the lives and work.  There are countless ideas for ways to bring more value to customers, but they are usually locked-up in the traditional ways of doing business.  Innovation management overcomes these lock-ins to traditional technologies, products, processes and ways of doing business in order to allow new value creation.

What is the most satisfying part in your job?

I greatly enjoy observing the sense of extreme satisfaction which engulfs people delivering higher value through innovation.  It is personally very satisfying for leaders, managers and all employees to bring new value to customers.  Seeing the benefits of rising sales, and cash flow, as a result of bringing new solutions to market invigorates everyone and makes for a wonderful workplace.

And the most frustrating parts?

Whenever an organization is committed to moving forward, yet can’t seem to stop the Status Quo Police from constantly bringing up the things which hold them back.  Allowing those who are most entrenched in history to constantly portray innovation as risky, simply because it isn’t like the past, holds the organization back from moving forward with great plans.  It is an emotional appeal to a bygone era that the organization wishes to recapture, but allowing such behavior simply keeps leaders and managers from doing what they logically know they really need to accomplish.

What is your next big challenge?

Helping those who educate business managers and leaders to recognize the critical importance of innovation management.  So much management education has been focused on optimizing historical organizational behavior that it has entrenched management thinking.  Optimizing a supply chain, manufacturing process, order-to-cash process or other operational parts of a business can add value in the short term, but it is often easily replicated by competitors and yields very little long-term value.  Only by innovating can organizations thrive short-term, and survive long-term.  Yet we do precious little to educate managers and leaders in innovation implementation.

About Adam Hartung

Adam HartungAdam Hartung is Managing Partner of Spark Partners, a Chicago based firm focused on innovation management yielding profitable high growth for clients.  Adam developed The Phoenix Principle for managing innovation, and has applied it for nearly a decade creating universally successful results helping clients of all sizes, and across all industries, grow beyond expectations.  Adam is a leadership blogger for Forbes magazine, and writes a bi-monthly column for CIO magazine.  He is a contributing editor for The International Journal of Innovation Science, and an adjunct faculty member and leader of the innovation curriculum at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

Adam was formerly head of business development at DuPont, and prior to that head of business development at Pepsico.  He has been a leader at The Boston Consulting Group, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Index and Computer Sciences Corporation.   He has his MBA, with Distinction, from The Harvard Business School.  Adam authored “Create Marketplace Disruption: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition” (Financial Times Press, 2009) covering how organizations limit their growth through locking-in on historical practices, and can break out of those lock-ins to generate high levels of profitable growth.