Monday, June 14, 2021

Innovative Idea Management Framework

As an organization, you need to manage your strategic directions, your ideas, your process, capabilities of your people to create a much more innovative organization.

The purpose of Idea/Innovation Management is to prepare everything to maximize the transformation of an idea to achieve its business value. The science of idea management is about setting principles and building a practical framework with fine-tuned processes and structures to walk through a generation-assessment-implementation-performance-risk management scenario.

 In reality, very few organizations can manage ideas effectively. Because overly rigid rules or processes will stifle creativity and decrease innovation effectiveness. And there are always some constraints for businesses to explore new opportunities or deploy new ideas. It is important to manage innovation from keeping ideas flow to implementing ideas systematically.

Generation: Ideas are seeds of creativity that can change a certain situation and future; ideas are crucial to an innovation program. Is there such a thing as bad ideas or too many ideas? It doesn't matter if the idea is original or mundane, if there is nothing to compare or relate it to. It’s about who is expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenge the status quo. In today's competitive environment, what was outside the box yesterday, may not be such today. Our thinking has to continuously evolve, adopt, and prepare for changes to generate more ideas for inventing the future together. You need to make sure that your company has a steady flow of fresh ideas floating in your innovation pipeline, and you need a methodological platform that allows you to do that in an efficient way.

From a management perspective, it is about building a more interconnected communication platform to create, share and improve ideas. Money will increase the willingness of employees to contribute ideas or improve the idea management system. It doesn't mean though that it will absolutely increase the volume of ideas that are available to be collected. To break through the idea management bottleneck, business leaders need to clarify innovation efforts by questioning themselves and others: What can interact with ideas, and what parameters the innovative ideas might have? Who else is using such new ideas? Who are the industry players? Can we learn some innovative ideas across the industrial border? Can we also learn what the trend of such a new idea is? Can we classify the components or operations of ideas? What can interact with these ideas? What parameters does the innovative idea have? Who else is using such new ideas? Who are the main industry players? Ideas are like water, keep flowing, do we have an idea reservoir to keep them up and manage them effectively to unleash their potential? Etc.

Validation: There’s nothing wrong with lots of out-of-the box ideas as long as you couple it with some good analytical tools to make an objective assessment to achieve their commercial values. One of the real challenges to innovation management is how to accelerate idea validation and streamline innovation processes. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of spending too much time and effort chasing down bad ideas. Companies need to have a process in place that allows for the submission of ideas that filters out the “craziness” that sometimes occurs in brainstorming. There needs to be context, balance and known parameters, so it can be judged if it is cliche, inside the box thinking, outside the box thinking, or incomprehensible thoughts.

Most good ideas emerge from interactions, not single individuals. Thus, an appropriately configured and well-developed digital platform needs to become the part of innovation management. Besides validating ideas, it’s also important to validate innovation platforms, systems, or tools. An effective idea management platform/tools can be assessed through simplicity of use, flexibility to manage different discussions, collaborative systems & tools to encourage discussions, as well as transparency in follow-up of a system of innovation process from the idea up to implementation, quantify the potential benefits of those ideas; what is expected for market size, the expected cost or profit, list the pros & cons of ideas, how would the idea benefit the customer, the company or the employees, etc.

Implementation: One of the issues about generating too many ideas is that one can get stuck in the rut of idea generation only. An idea is just an idea unless executed. Even if you have many innovative ideas, it doesn’t guarantee innovation success due to the possible ‘execution’ gap. Keep in mind, identification of the novel is only the beginning, the heavy lifting starts as a firm aligns resources and executes, it is the science of innovation management. The problems start when people start to choose the best idea for them to implement. If you remember that ideas are built on other ideas and that idea combination is a powerful technique, then having a big amount of ideas is a good thing as long as you then try and get the best attributes of the ones you like and combine them into one solid implementation/ outcome.

More organizations are looking for integrations with project and portfolio management tools to ensure the ideas go straight from platforms into specialized systems or tools to help them manage the portfolio of potential projects, and manage the execution of each. Create a disciplined, managed space for developing and testing new models, products, and business approaches. Bridging innovation execution gap to achieving the business objectives requires a contracted execution scenario with clear stages, performance thresholds, and decision-making parameters combined with an iterative, experiential learning process that supports wide-ranging exploration at each stage.

Recognition: Ideas are great, and an idea person is invaluable. Innovators are at their very heart visionaries who also have determination, dedication, passion and curiosity, inspiration and motivation. It is important to recognize your innovators or change agents. It has been observed that recognition helps people participate in cross-functional collaboration, voice opinions and sharing wisdom. The process to support the creation of sustainable, systematic innovation can be structured, but innovation per se is like composing a symphony, a lot of planning, but the music will come from the musicians, not the conductor. Because ideas are built on other ideas and that idea combination is a powerful technique, and the chain of ideas keeps the organization energetic and people engaged.

Not only recognize innovators, but also create a creative culture to nurture more innovators. Look at both tangible - the quantitative result, but do not ignore the intangibles - the positive or negative culture influence the employee has brought to the company and a peer review always helps. If the working environment with delightful interaction is stimulating and challenging, employees should think of knowledge/idea sharing as something they gain, rather than lose. If corporate managers and employees have different manifestations about the culture, then, more open communication is needed to clarify the expectation, with the ultimate goals to make the organization a better place to work, and the staff can contribute to idea generation.

Measurement: The perception will come from the usage you're doing with metrics: Assuming an organization believes that metrics can lead to continuous improvement and improve innovation effectiveness, select a right set of key performance indicators, to keep the measures simple and understandable. Irrelevant measurement indicators will waste time, add the other layer of management complexity, and decrease the business effectiveness. Because some innovations take time to be developed into fruition. One of the solutions is to define innovation process KPIs, which demonstrate the growing capability of the organization to deliver more innovation with business impact in the future.

The effective measurements selected should be part of a link to cause-and-effect relationships, ending in financial objectives that ultimately affect the growth and long-term perspective of the organization.A well-defined standard set of innovation performance metrics would need to be considered in better measures of innovation success such as revenue sustainability, customer satisfaction, knowledge accumulation, brand reputation or price elasticity, etc.

Risk Management: If idea management is like a gas accelerator, then risk management is like a brake pad. The innovative idea is in the head of an innovator, but having a good means for its realization is a great enabler, the most valuable thing is recognition that risk and opportunity are essentially the flip-sides of each other. Companies compete on innovation. And depending on the company's position in the marketplace, they may be forced to take risks that others would not take to meet shareholder expectations. Thus, innovation risks need to be managed systematically.

There are strategic risks and systemic risks, there are financial risks, operational risks, or regulation risks, etc, in innovation management. The primary focus of the risk management process would be to identify and control those risks that can be addressed; financing, market understanding, competitor analysis, identifying the space of opportunity, defining the scalability of the product, what timescale to allow before making a go/no-go decision. Organizations need to periodically make an objective assessment of their risk management systems and tools, identifying risk management blind spots and the root causes of business problems, for improving the overall innovation success rate.

For cracking the serendipity code of idealization & implementations and achieving innovation premium, organizations should build a healthy working environment to encourage idea brainstorming, knowledge sharing, and leverage effective information/knowledge/process management. As an organization, you need to manage your strategic directions, your ideas, your process, capabilities of your people to create a much more innovative organization.


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