Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What are inside the Innovation Leaders’ Toolbox

Innovation is not a serendipity, innovation is nothing without exploration and exploitation.

Businesses today face fiery competition and rapid digital paradigm shift technologically and economically, hence, innovation becomes a “must have” strategic capability to compete for the long-term business growth. Innovation is about prioritization, a system that can “smell” the right idea at the right time and place, innovation is about having new knowledge and new processes to transform creative ideas to realize its business value. People, process, and technology, more specifically- what are in the innovation leaders’ toolbox, in order to manage innovation effectively?

Systematic Innovation processes: A systematic approach is to depict innovation as a system (rather than a traditional process) whose performance depends on the alignment of its various components (people, actions, controls, resources, etc.). Innovation processes are used to create, deliver and manage innovation. Innovation process has usually been defined with a wide-scope view. It encompasses the entire process from the decision to begin research on a recognized or potential problem, to development, commercialization, diffusion, decision to adopt, implementation, and consequences. A systematic innovation is a structured process and set of practical tools used to create or improve products/services/processes that deliver new value to customers or satisfy employees. Organizations should ideally have a sustainable approach to innovation. The robust process and tools that enable any entity generate winning concepts on the consistent basis, which is the prerequisite for sustaining advantage and growth.
- Goals for innovation
- Innovation models
- Roles and responsibilities for people involved in innovation processes and in connection with the processes and models

Metrics are the tools in the innovation toolbox: Normally organizations look for metrics measuring business results generated by innovation efforts. Innovation performance indicators need to focus on measuring quality, quantity, time, cost, revenue growth, profit improvement, margin targets, product variety for stability, turnover, shareholder/owner return and talent sustainability, etc. The innovation metrics in the context of business impact include such as % of revenue from new products introduced. You could also change the variables and create something like % of the profit from new ideas implemented. But it takes quite some time for a new innovation drive to produce those measures. One of the solutions is to define innovation process measurement, which demonstrates the growing capability of the organization to deliver more innovation with business impact in the future.  The process performance indicators could link to strategy, to make progress on the percentage of projects in the total innovation portfolio which contain a major part of external innovation. What gets measured, gets managed. Metrics are not the end-all solution to management, but simply another set of tools, data, and information sets. Choose the right metrics by deciding which are seen as critical to making progress in order to deliver more innovations.  And keep the measures simple and understandable.

Other popular innovation frameworks or tools such as TRIZ: For example, there are innovation methodologies & tools based on a theory first formulated 65 years ago by Altshuller and is known as TRIZ, which has four major tools for innovative management:
(1). Problem-solving tool,
(2). Failures prediction and analysis tools
(3). Tools to develop new products and new technology.
(4). Tools to develop and protect patents.

Different organizations have their own “innovation strength.” The Innovation-generating organization depends more heavily on its technological knowledge and market capabilities to develop and commercialize innovations; the innovation-adopting organization relies more on its managerial and organizational capabilities to select and assimilate innovations. The organizations in the first category need the ability to generate innovative outputs more effectively, but the organizations in the second category need to build the ability to absorb innovative inputs efficiently. So innovation leaders in different organizations and industries should match their own needs to build their innovation strength, and fill their innovation toolbox with the tailored process, frameworks, and metrics to create a healthy innovation portfolio and manage innovation in a systematic way.


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