Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Avoid Pitfalls in Innovation Management

Innovation is the change, change management needs to be an integral part of innovation management.

Innovation is both art and science. Innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity in the real life and business. In general, business innovation is a management discipline, and innovation management has an overall very low success rate. The reasons why failure occurs vary widely, it is no wonder why many leaders are reluctant to act on bold ideas with good business potential due to the high likelihood of failure. So more specifically, what are the pitfalls in innovation management and how to manage innovation more effectively?

Process Pitfalls: Lack of systematic processes or having overly rigid processes can both cause innovation to fail. Innovation is, generally speaking, a discipline because it is a systematic way to applying creativity in the real life and business. However, should innovation processes be standardized, or is it innovation process an oxymoron? On one side, it does take systematic processes to manage a balanced innovation portfolio from idea management to innovation implementation; from incremental innovations to radical innovations. On the other side, the term innovation process implies an openness to innovative ideas, with an accepted interface into the organization to actually develop and exploit the ideas as they come about. An obsession with the rigidity of efficiency stunts the innovation creation process. Innovation is fluid and should not be straight-jacketed. Many process innovations will be concerned with increasing and optimizing efficiency and maintaining existing skills and linkages. Efficiency and short-term goal orientation often divert focus from innovation in general; and innovation, especially radical innovation will benefit in the long-range return on investment. So innovation is often dependent on business insight because you can't change an organization without insight, the organization adapts exclusively to the insight you provide to it.

Lack of Change Management: Every innovation includes change process. Consider any new idea as an innovation, mainly if such new ideas will change, optimize or improve any existing technology, service, treatment, process, politics, etc...There are quite some terms that are vital to the successful creation of innovations that are misinterpreted, misunderstood, overused/misused. Too often people do not understand the nature of change, why it's critical for organizations to remain competitive, and how they're part of the change in order to realize positive outcomes. Innovation has become a buzzword to that point that those who truly understand it cannot get the real message out through the "hype" and truly implement innovative change. Not every innovation includes "technology in all its scope," but every innovation includes change process, and successful management of this change process is vital for the successful creation of innovations. It must be new, ‘new’ means it must force at least a minimum of a change process in adaptation to its target, this change process can be everything (thinking, communication, behaviour, use, etc.); the more complex the change process the “target” faces the more radical it becomes (difference between incremental and radical innovation).

Lack of talented innovators and lack of risk tolerance culture: Although due to the complexity of modern business and disruptive digital technologies, nowadays, innovation more often comes from the teamwork, not just one individual’s effort. One of the biggest pitfalls for innovation failure is the lack of cognitive ability to think new ways to do things and also organizations lack the culture of tolerance. In addition, to TRUE sustained management support, businesses need to think hard about how their FUNCTION can be performed in other ways. It takes a combination of wacky and less risky ideas to balance out a robust innovation portfolio worth investigating. There is a myth that innovation may come out of a process and not individuals/innovators and the innovation is not properly adopted or innovated to be adopted by the target audience. Certainly, the innovation that brings out new products or spots a niche should be rewarded. Failure should not be an offense and actually, if there are not a few failures, then you are not trying hard enough. The job of management is to help when a failure happens to turn it around as a team. However, in many organizations, creativity, curiosity, trust and strong relationship with consumers, that should be leading any company's decisions, come to the bottom of priorities ladder.

Innovation processes need to be rigorous, not too rigid; innovation is the change, change management needs to be an integral part of innovation management. And last but not the least, the culture of innovation means to encourage learning and discovering, cultivate the new generations of innovators, have risk intelligence to manage both opportunity and risk accordingly. And ultimately, the business growth is accelerated by innovation, and their innovation is enabled by their ability to orchestrate people, process, and technology, to catalyze and scale up with a new capacity to sustain business prosperity.


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