Creative business solutions benefit the bottom line, but many times they can also solve environmental challenges by cutting waste and better utilizing resources. Tanja Bisgaard from Novitas Innovation tells IM how she hopes to help her clients, their customers and the planet all at the same time.

What is innovation management to you?

Innovation Management to me is about identifying the relevant drivers of innovation for a company, either related to a service, a product line or organizational structures, and ensuring that a framework is in place to take advantage of the drivers.

What are the most important lessons for an innovation manager to learn?

There is a difference between planning an innovation process, and planning the result of the process. At the outset of an innovation process, the result is not known, and it is hard to evaluate what impact the innovation project will lead to. Managers working with innovation processes will have to refrain from trying to control the results of the project, and rather focus on the steps that need to be taken during the process. If the innovation team has asked the rights question, the answers they obtain once the process is completed should be of great value to their company. But to be successful, innovation managers will have to let go of some amount of control.

Do you think innovation management as a profession is headed in the right direction?

I think it is great that innovation is increasingly being seen as something that can be managed, and not something that randomly happens through trial and error. Managers that can handle those types of innovation processes should become just as increasingly important to companies and organizations.

What’s your next big challenge?

My next big challenge is to involve companies in creating innovative solutions and products that also participate in solving some of our environmental challenges such as resource scarcity and waste. By rethinking their business models, processes and designs, companies can find opportunities for innovation that can reduce the amount of materials they use and thereby their costs. This can benefit our planet, their company and their customers!

About Tanja Bisgaard

Tanja comes from a position as Manager of Policy Analysis at FORA, the Danish Ministry of Economics and Business Affairs, where she worked with identifying and analysing new forms of innovation in companies for clients such as the OECD and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Within the areas of user driven innovation and corporate social innovation, Tanja has worked on several projects documenting the results of companies’ innovation processes.

Tanja now runs her own company Novitas Innovation that focuses on advising companies on sustainable innovation where issues such as resource use, hazardous chemicals and waste are analysed. By turning environmental challenges into opportunities, companies can develop new business models, new processes, or new products or services.