You might talk the talk of innovation. But do you walk the walk? Or, more realistically, are you doing some herky-jerky semblance of a walk that’s not getting you very far?

I broached this subject recently in my article –Are You Really Innovating?– where I presented five signs that you might be faking it. This was a quick way to self-diagnose your approach to innovation, but we all know it’s not that simple. Faking it – whether intentional or not – may just be the way you survive when the pressure to innovate is high, but your ability to drive it with the right people, processes, and tools is low.

So, if you’ve taken an honest look in the innovation mirror and you’re ready to admit your company has some opportunity for improvement when it comes to driving innovative products to market, congratulations! Admitting your problem is the first step to recovery.

But that begs the next question: How then do you determine where you really are and how to move forward?

This is the question we recently addressed at Planview. We wanted to put a little substance around the hype of innovation to give organizations a critical tool for assessing their maturity level. And after an exhaustive Google search, nothing quite captured our end-to-end vision of describing innovation maturity for the full commercialization process – from idea to launch, and all the way through to sunset. So we created one to guide organizations toward sustainable innovation.

Introducing the Planview Innovation Management Maturity Model

The model includes the three elements we believe are crucial to an effective innovation program: people, process, and tools.

Based on a Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework developed by Carnegie Mellon University, we designed the new Planview Innovation Management Maturity Model to be the most comprehensive in the industry. The model includes the three elements which are crucial to an effective innovation program: people, process, and tools. Think of it as the three-legged stool upon which innovation sits.

The model lets organizations rank themselves on the strength of their innovation program in the categories of people, process, and tools across five levels of maturity. Level 1 represents the lowest level of maturity while Level 5 is the highest, where innovation is operationalized, embedded in the company culture, with a supporting organization, well-defined processes, and formalized tools. And it’s not just about identifying your current level and moving on down the road, but also to define your end game. What are you trying to achieve through innovation and what level of maturity is necessary to get there.

The model will help companies visually represent their current level of maturity.

What hinders most innovation programs is the lack of maturity in one or more of the areas of people, process, and tools. For example, drilling into the front end of innovation with ideation, you need to have the infrastructure (people) to be able to respond to the influx of all the ideas, a process to move those ideas through the lifecycle, and a tool to promote collaboration around ideas so the best ideas rising to the top and moving towards a deeper business case analysis. The model will help companies visually represent their current level of maturity. For instance, if you are at Level 4 for people, Level 2 for process,and Level 1 for tools, you can see how wobbly your innovation stool might be. And more importantly, you can also see what specific actions can be taken to help you move up the scale and stabilize your innovation program.

The Three-Legged Stool

According to the forthcoming 4th Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study, which includes results from more than 500 product development leaders who ranked their innovation maturity according to this model, very few organizations are at the Level 5 stage of maturity. Seeing how the highest maturity organizations embody the three categories of people, process, and tools as outlined in the model will give you an idea of its depth as well as what to strive for.

People: This is about having an organizational structure that supports innovation, with people whose jobs are to manage the innovation program and portfolio. The highest maturity organizations have a Center for Process Excellence that is productive, well established, and well-staffed. They also have support from executive leadership and department heads who know that innovation is how the business will grow, meet the corporate strategy, and thrive. Decision-making in the high maturity innovation organization is collaborative and efficient. Everyone throughout the commercialization process understands their role and their part in delivering against the objectives of innovation. Highly trained project managers and scrum masters lead innovation and development teams, leveraging industry best practices to meet deliverable and product launch target.

Process: This refers to the automation of the commercialization process. Organizations at the highest maturity level have dynamic processes that can easily be adapted as the market changes and the company evolves. They have fully automated and standardized processes that are in a regular state of continuous improvement, including process deliverables, templates, and reports. Portfolio metrics have evolved to include resource capacity, competitive impact, and environmental impact scores, not just the product financials. Projects are killed early and often during portfolio reviews. In addition, the voice of the customer is captured on an ongoing basis, using targeted challenges to drive innovation and maintain brand loyalty. A continuous learning loop is well established and effectively incorporates post-launch learnings back into the commercialization process.

Tools: This refers to having a PPM system in place to automate processes, which are rolled out to everyone along the commercialization process. The PPM application is integrated with other enterprise applications, such as the ERP and the PLM. Ideas are collected via purpose-built, externally available applications for customer and company-wide collaboration. The product roadmap is tied corporate strategy and project execution via the PPM application. What-if analysis is performed against resource capacity to consistently hit launch windows. The entire product catalog of in-market products, including the product P&L, is managed via the PPM application to leverage platform components across multiple products. Self-service, configurable reports and metrics are delivered across the organization to those who need access, in a format and device that works best for each individual user.

Next Steps

Now it’s time for the homework portion of this conversation. (Oh, no!) Trust me. This will only hurt a little:

Assess honestly: The model will help you start the conversation in your organization about your maturity level within each of the three areas. Our benchmark research found that in many organizations, there is a discrepancy between where people think they are versus where management thinks they are. This framework gives you an objective, unemotional way to assess your innovation program.

Determine where you are going: The model not only provides a solid framework to define where you are today, but also helps you decide where you want to go and develop a strategy for how to get there. Depending on your business or brand, it may not be necessary to achieve a Level 5 in each area – no need to over-engineer your organization, processes, or tools.

Don’t wait for perfect to get started: Completing the first two steps will inherently define the gap, but then you need to make a plan. Right size your innovation program, lever your budget wisely to level out your three-legged stool, and then get executive leadership and support to help you drive the change.

To see how you stack up on the Planview Innovation Management Maturity Model, visit I’d love to hear your input! And if you want to see how your company compares to the industry as a whole and to get more insight into innovation and the product development discipline as a whole, look for the upcoming 4th Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study conducted by Appleseed Partners and Open Sky Research and commissioned by Planview, which will be available soon.

By Carrie Nauyalis

About the author

Carrie Nauyalis, NPD Solution Evangelist at Planview, is passionate about establishing customer partnerships, developing market positioning, defining field enablement strategies, providing market-based feedback into Planview product development, and being an overall evangelist and thought leader for the Product Development market.
She is an active speaker, MBA guest lecturer, blogger, and vlogger on all things Product Portfolio Management, with warm places in her heart for the topics of innovation, Stage-Gate, and Agile.

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