Tuesday, May 16, 2017


An enriched digital innovation ecosystem enables systematic innovation management disciplines.

Digital era opens the new chapter of innovation. Today, in the hyperconnected digital ecosystem, innovation can happen anywhere, anytime, it expands both horizontally and vertically. Innovation comes in many flavors and there are many opportunities in an enterprise to do so, such as breakthrough innovation, evolutionary innovation, incremental innovation, systematic innovation, customer-centric innovation, open innovation, design-driven innovation, or management (leadership, culture, communication) innovation, etc. There is no one-size fits all formula to manage all sorts of innovations well. But innovation shouldn’t be just serendipitous as well. Here are three management approaches to improve the innovation management success rate in the digital era.

An emergent approach: Innovation is to transform novel ideas to achieve its business value. Due to the “VUCA” digital new normal, leading organizations and managing, changes & innovations shouldn’t wait until there is an immediate pressing task. Digital leaders must realize that proactive innovation management and continuous adaptability are necessary in a rapidly changing world. They realize they should look uphills to identify the real problems that matter and on a scale that can make a difference. They should also look deeply into the future to navigate where to go and how to get there. Often the multidimensional innovation lens provides them the better angle and broader perspective to build business competency, achieve the higher business value, and drive digital transformation seamlessly. Under such business circumstance with the increasing speed of changes and unpredictability, it is important to evolve the emergent properties or events to practice the dynamic innovation strategy management. It will be disappointing for those who wait until the last moment of some strategic or tactical tasks and then expect innovation to be forthcoming magically but come up short. For strategic innovation, the leadership team has to become involved in that capacity construction and build innovation as the differentiated business capability proactively. Digital is the age of customers, innovation also needs to become more customer-centric, focus on meeting important customer needs, instead of just doing simply interesting research topics. It helps to assure that the results of an innovative approach will have a positive impact on the clients, partners, end users, and the marketplace.

An iterative approach: From idea generation to innovation implementation, plan, do, check, act are not linear steps, but an iterative continuum in the digital era. Innovation Management is also situational, should be managed top-down, bottom-up or middle-out accordingly based on the innovation flavors and management styles. What is needed today is top-down to be more about the vision of the outcome; top-down management doesn't mean to micro-manage innovation, let employees use their brains in helping solve for leaders' intent. Innovation is not a singular idea or event as well, because a key part of the innovation is the behavioral changes that occur as the idea is adopted by a user group. The robust processes and tools that enable an entity to generate winning concepts for innovation management on a consistent basis and via an iterative approach, is the prerequisite for sustaining advantage and growth with continuous innovation delivery. This requires an effective 'innovation system' that is capable of supporting both widespread incremental innovation in products/services and ways of working as well as the rarer 'step-change' innovation in products/services, working methodology, business model, and market positioning.

An integrative approach: An enriched digital innovation ecosystem enables systematic innovation management disciplines. It starts with an innovation strategy defines "WHAT does the organization innovate" or "where should it innovate" to support the overall strategy. Systematic innovation management with an integrative approach is an effective way to manage a healthy digital innovation portfolio. Innovation ecosystem or the methodological environment should cover the whole innovation process, from processes in managing ideas or idea handling systems to idea implementation and promotion. The organizational content is the innovation capability which is how does the organization innovate. The digital innovation context goes beyond the traditional scope, the best point of view is to see innovation as a system, capable of delivering organization-wide capability. An integrative approach to managing innovation is to ensure that the innovation process can be applied to create value without adding the redundant layer of complication. And innovation leaders can balance innovation with the order, change, and stability to improve business vitality to ensure future business growth and organizational maturity.

Innovation has to result in something which leads us to a better state than where we are today. There’s no such one size fit all success formula for innovation management success. It is important to define the most compelling and unique innovation approach or a mix of different approaches to addressing the needs; analyze the benefits per costs of that approach, to ensure that innovation can be managed more systematically and develop it as a distinguished business capability.


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