By: Pearl Zhu
The success of innovation management is never an accident; it’s a holistic management process with an iterative thought-out planning and execution continuum.
Innovation is a management process and a differentiated business competency enabling the organization to ride on emerging trends and beat down competitions effortlessly. How well the organization manages innovation is based on varying factors such as how effective of the allocation of resources; how efficient the innovation process is, or lack thereof; how fast they can make decisions, how consistently they are able to deliver business results; how much risk they can afford to take, and how significant is the innovation impact, etc. Here are five perspectives of innovation management maturity.
Increase the Speed of Innovation Deliveries
With dynamic changes and fierce competition, the speed of innovation needs to be accelerated. The main barriers to speed up innovation are siloing, change inertia, rule rigidity, inflexibility, static process, or bureaucracy, etc. Therefore, the organization needs to have high adaptability skills to deal with emergent events, work against all odds, and break down structural and management obstacles to enforce cross functional communication and collaboration. In fact, how effectively the organization manages innovation is based on varying factors such as information fluidity, decision effectiveness, resource allocation, and the overall manageability.
There are both incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation; some innovation initiatives take longer time to mature and deliver business results than others. Thus, it’s important to consider the impact that the innovation could make and the speed of innovation deliveries. Only focusing on individual line extension renovation rather than developing a broader portfolio perhaps limits innovation management to small incremental improvements and fails to result in significant step changes and revenue opportunities.
Enterprises that are able to successfully innovate at a breakthrough level can increase the likelihood that they will dominate and prosper in new markets they create so that they are moving much faster than competitors and build value-added advantages effortlessly.
Decrease the Risk of Innovation Processes
Risk is part of innovation. Innovation management overall has very low success rate. Because innovation success depends on many factors such as talent, process, resources, etc. Part of the innovation dilemma is that you do not know how and for what you will use the budget; some innovations need to be fed with more resources while others get better by starving them. Innovation risk would also broadly need to consider both endogenous and exogenous drivers. Thus, risk management needs to be an integral component of innovation management.
A well-designed innovation risk management platform enables the management team keeping focus, meeting the needs of leveraging applicable innovation processes to manage risk in a structural way. Innovation leaders need to have the right dose of risk appetite and the high level of risk intelligence in order to take an interdisciplinary approach to manage innovation effectively and build a highly innovative business ultimately.
Leverage Diversity to Create Meaningfully Unique Ideas
Although creativity is an innate process, the creative spark does not always originate solely in the individual; it can manifest in a collective setting. In that manner, you could say, there is more collective creativity happening everywhere than many people have realized.
Diversity is the hotbed to spark creativity. It’s best to bring a group of people together with the cognitive differences such as varying backgrounds, complementary experiences, the broader spectrum of skills, unique competencies, diverse cultural perspectives, and different personalities, etc., in order to encourage divergent thinking and stimulate creativity.
In the digital context, diversifying the diversity is truly about embracing multidimensional hyper-diversities such as cognitive diversity, creative diversity, skill diversity, cultural diversity, and personality diversity in order to nurture a culture of creativity and shape a highly innovative organization.
Use the Power of Stimulus to Spark Creativity Effectively
People are the center of innovation. To nurture the right atmosphere for inspiring creativity and encouraging innovation, it’s important to identify and empower your innovators by crediting people who thought of the brilliant ideas or talented staff who take risks to implement those ideas skillfully.
Many business leaders have begun using collaborative digital platforms and methodologies to orchestrate their organization’s talent and bring out their collective best thinking and creative potential to accelerate innovation and optimize their solution forming capabilities.
The people-centric innovation management enables the management to guide their people by communicating effectively, and to assess the creative performance of their employees, achieve the maximum visibility of ideators and contributors, showcase success stories to help keep up the motivation level, and use the power of stimulus to encourage creativity and reward innovators continually.
Reduce Fears in the Organization
Because when fear is present, brilliant ideas wait for better times or just diminish. The overriding mindset in many organizations is the “we always do things like that” mentality. In the traditional “command and control” business environment, when conformity to expectations is very highly valued, independent thinkers or innovators are seen by default as troublemakers, and people are discouraged to think outside of the box.
In reality, the majority of organizations are not fertile ground for ideation because they fear taking risks, and seldom learn from their mistakes; their internal politics and fears discourage creative people and downgrade creative projects by means of overly rigid processes or senseless KPIs.
To overcome fear and build a creative workforce and workplace, planning and optimizing are important; you can’t imagine a successful innovation process without its continuous improvement. Digital business leaders and managers must diffuse innovation through the organization and include people in crafting innovation strategies, empower innovators to catalyze the culture of creativity, and build creative teams that can bring all sorts of strengths and capabilities together to amplify creativity effect and run a highly innovative organization.
Digital innovation not only has broader scope but also has a deeper context. The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices: Culture, methodology, and people. The goal is to build an organization in which creativity is a significant part of business culture and innovation has been managed masterfully to achieve high business value and improve customer satisfaction. The success of innovation management is never an accident; it’s a holistic management process with an iterative thought-out planning and execution continuum.
About the author
Pearl Zhu is an innovative “Corporate Global Executive” with more than twenty-one years of technical and business working experience in strategic planning, Information Technology, software development, e-commerce and international trading, etc. She holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15+ years. She is the author of “Digital Master” book series and the “Future of CIO blog.