innovation management

What is Innovation Management & How to Start

Are you an innovative professional? Does your company invest in initiatives to seek new ways of improving processes, coordinating people, or motivating the team?

Innovation has been a buzz word during the last few decades and there’s a reason for it. Over the last 100 years, we’ve seen changes happening in the way we produce, work, and contribute within the professional environment. 

But why should you care? Innovation within management processes could create lasting advantages and produce drastic changes that allow your business to cross new performance thresholds. Still, even after many learn this, only just a few companies actually have adopted defined processes for innovation management. 

Why is innovation such an essential matter? To explain, we’ll start by showing what innovation management is. 

What is Innovation Management?

In the early 1900s, General Electric improved one of the most notable invention’s of Thomas Edison, the industrial research laboratory. 

GE took management class through the chaotic process of scientific discovery. For the next 50 years, they won more patents than any other company in the world. Much of GE’s current competitive feats might be attributed to this extraordinary accomplishment. Evident by their consistent, patent-winning success, GE’s work was basically to take care of it’s innovation management – and they did so with flying colors!

Innovation management is the systematic promotion of business innovation and must include planning, organizing, managing and controlling. The goal is to promote innovation within a company. The benefits include:

  • Improvement of internal processes to reduce costs and strengthen the business
  • Improved products and services to stand out from the competition
  • Increase in employee satisfaction due to increased engagement and voices being heard
  • New services and products to exploit different sources of income
  • Development of new business models to exploit new markets

What Are the Key Aspects of Innovation Management?

Innovation management is different than just creating a new process. For that matter, understanding how it works might be a little complicated so the easiest way to understand how it works, is to split it through it’s key aspects: capabilities, structures, culture and strategy.

  • Capabilities: This covers the different capacities and resources that a company has to create and manage innovation. This aspect is mainly related to people and is directly connected with individual and team skills. It also approaches areas such as tacit knowledge and available financial capital.
  • Structure: The structures enables the use of capabilities. Infrastructure and the processes, for instance, allow people to put their abilities into practice. Without the right communication tools, collaboration between teams might be impaired, harming the implementation of new ideas.
  • Culture: With the appropriate pro-innovation culture, it is more likely that a company is capable to recruit and maintain the right people within their organization. It reminds them that they need to always think in ways to innovate, and offers the freedom & responsibility needed for innovation to be implemented by everyone, despite hierarchy.
  • Strategy: Strategy is the plan that an organization follows to achieve innovation success in the long term. Innovation is the means by which the company chases their strategic goals. For that to happen, it is necessary to focus in areas that are more likely to succeed. 

What Does Successful Innovation Management Look Like?

Now that we have covered the main concepts related to innovation management, you probably want to know what it all means when put into practice. Unfortunately, there is not a adopt-all answer. The right track depends on each company’s specific situation, and while different companies have distinct processes to manage innovation, there are also some steps are common to the best strategies:

1. Engage Everyone & Encourage Communication

To make your innovation culture effective, it is crucial to engage all employees, even if it’s through a digital environment. Innovation isn’t effective when done in isolation. The best way to inspire an innovative thought is not to push a brainstorming session, but to create a collaborative environment. The quality of contributions and creativity is crucial for the quality of innovation, and collaborative, engaging environments will facilitate that.

2. Don’t Push Employees, Pull Them In

To push or demand employees’ engagement might lead to weakness with time. By engaging them in creation, you can make them understand how their ideas will contribute for overall success of the business.

According to Deloitte Millennial Survey 2019, millennials prefer to work in places where they feel empowered and where they can make a difference. Explain the meaning of innovation and the potential they have to improve the company’s productivity and the purpose they have. 

You can also use a reward system as an incentive for employees to engage. This can help include that colleague who simply likes a challenge, the colleague who really needs that extra $500, or the colleague who simply wants to know that they, too, are getting something out of it and not just the company reaping rewards. Award colleagues for participation and viable ideas so they will not only participate, but also ensure they provide quality contributions with their ideas. 

3. Create an Innovation Culture

Creating innovative ideas that could push the company’s growth doesn’t happen overnight, but it demands a strategic orientation to adopt the culture to create new ideas. 

Creating awareness by first executing an adoption campaign internally within your department or company so that colleagues are aware of the new movement and all guidelines and expectations are clearly communicated. This is also an opportunity to get them excited so be sure to emphasize on all the ways that they will benefit from the new program that you are implementing. 

Once you’ve had a successful adoption campaign and everyone is on board, the next step is to execute an ideation campaign to ignite everyone’s creativity. Same principles of the adoption campaign, but this time you want to launch a specific idea campaign so that it will spark others to contribute. This directly affects capturing creative ideas, increasing participation, and promoting improvement from the bottom to the top. 

4. Provide the Right Tools

Employees might not have a specific time and place to discuss ideas or challenges they face – whether it be in-person or a digital environment. But, introducing an innovation management platform can easily create a digital environment where the employees can interact by contributing ideas and evaluating other’s ideas, allowing the selection of great innovative strategies, from anywhere, at any time. 

Innovation management was recognized as one of the most powerful strategies a company can use to optimize internal processes and increase their business productivity. If you are ready to start your own Innovation Management movement, launch an idea challenge in your company and engage everyone through Teams Ideas IDEATION, our tool which is free for all users! Start now!