Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Innovation Process an Oxymoron

Innovation Process needs to be Rigorous, not Rigid.

Innovation is both art and science. Innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity in the real life to achieve its business value, and in general, innovation is a discipline. However, should innovation processes be standardized? or is innovation process an oxymoron?

The term 'innovation process' implies the openness to innovative ideas, with an accepted interface into the organization to actually develop and exploit the ideas as they come about. An organization that seeks to innovate must be able to make decisions on the innovative ideas / concepts, and then make both development and life cycle sustaining decisions. With the maturity of mobile/social/cloud/analytics digital technologies, the organization takes a significant portion of time and cost to experiment innovation, it sparks the new wave of innovative idea sharing and implementation, but how to prioritize and manage the innovation process becomes the strategic imperative.

Idea creation, implementation processes, culture, governance., etc are all key factors to Innovation. Any organization that innovates but cannot move its innovative ideas forward is an organization doomed to the status quo. An organization that excels at development and life cycle sustaining is an engineering firm. In addition, culture is key success factor; it's easy for an organization to say "innovation is critical" or some other such trite; observation of the habits of the organization often reveals a culture that seems almost pathologically designed to stifle innovation. An organization that masters all these factors will become an innovation leader. 

You do need some form of frameworks for Innovation to ensure that you can qualify ideas and direct the right amount of resources/investment to the most promising ideas. The key aspect is to ensure that innovation is not stifled by the underlying product management processes. A heavy innovation process is definitely an oxymoron, but you do need certain process and governance framework, as many good ideas have diminished in middle-management of many organizations because of lack of attention. The "process" could be any of the following; and the more, the better
-Unbounded, free of rules and idea is a good idea
-Solicit ideas from anywhere within the organization, not just a specific group or individuals
-Allow for peer review and feedback with constructive criticism
-Allow for management to contribute and encourage
-Have peer review "vote", as well as contribute or evolve the ideas

Innovation process needs to be rigorous, not too rigid. If the process in the innovation process is akin to what would come out the too rigid PM school of thought, then the term might be oxymoronic. Trying a very loose process that's not too time-bound, but does prescribe a simple set of steps or gates that make things a little more systematic than they otherwise might be. In some occasions, the innovation process should be to solve a specific use case.Target the selection to address something (process, problem, new idea, etc). Have a time constraint. Drive the results to be resolved within a specific period.

Thus, organizations with rigorous innovation processes can manage innovation life cycle more systematically, and business with effective innovation framework, processes and governance tend to score high on both agility and performance.  


This is really great and nice post you have shared and i like your post.

Data Innovation

Let's be honest. Big organizations are regular hives of innovation - they buy out whoever shows signs of getting it right. That is the vast majority of how they innovate. Past the first internship, everyone learns that quickly. Business has ditched R&D and basic research for fast profits. They don't have the raw material to innovate internally. Anyone who has ever tried to push innovation bottom up know the futility of that too. Top down they have no need or incentive to risk their success on a possible failure. So when the time come, they buy out the appropriate younger company.

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