“Innovate or stagnate.” It’s a stark choice that businesses across all sectors must confront daily. Although many decision makers at large companies recognize the importance of innovation, most fail to implement it in a strategic, consistent, and effective way. A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that 84% of executives agreed innovation was important for their growth strategy, but only 6% said they were satisfied with innovation performance. In this article, we’ll explore why innovation management is important for any company looking to remain competitive on the corporate landscape.
In a nutshell, innovation management can be defined as the methodical process of introducing ‘something new’ to an organization – be it a product, service, model, etc. It’s the practice of implementing strategies to introduce this change in a way that best benefits an organization.
Now we’ve got a clearer picture of what innovation management is, let’s explore why the practice is important for driving ongoing business success.
- It Amplifies Employee Engagement
Michael Jordan once said, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” These words of wisdom could just as easily apply to the benefits of creating an engaging innovation culture. You may have talented employees with great ideas. However, they will have little impact on your company unless they are encouraged to combine their intelligence with other employees, and work as a team to reach overarching innovation goals.
By implementing innovation management, you can create a company-spanning ecosystem where employees feel engaged and incentivised to contribute their ideas. Here are just a few methods you can use to sustain this ecosystem.
In this Business Insider interview, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos discusses how his company has formulated a thriving innovation culture that helps ensure that employee talents are brought to the surface.
- Add Gamification Elements: This could entail offering prizes to employees who contribute suggestions that are adopted, or running innovation competitions that involve departments, select teams, or even external startups. Participants are more likely to contribute productively in a project that is structured like a game, rather than one that feels like another standard procedure.
- Develop a Communication Strategy: Create emails, newsletters, posters, and other communication materials to build the hype around innovation projects. This will let employees know that their input will be valued.
- Keep the Conversation Going: Establish an online space where employees can collaborate around innovation projects, as well as upvote and comment on new ideas.
In addition to offering fertile ground in which new ideas can, an innovation ecosystem can also reveal areas where internal improvements can take place.
- It Helps You Identify and Implement the Best Ideas
Innovation management makes it possible to systematize the process of capturing, refining, and implementing groundbreaking ideas. To drive innovation, you’ll need to have a process in place to solicit ideas from target audiences (employees, customers, partners, etc.) and then sort the ‘gold’ from the ‘gravel’. Innovation management involves developing these processes in a repeatable, scalable way.
French energy giant Total S.A is a great example of a company that deployed an open innovation management strategy to capture profit-driving ideas. In 2015, Total S.A utilized the Qmarkets platform on their website to create their ‘Tilt’ program – a space where customers could contribute ideas in three categories (each representing a side of the company’s offerings) – “My Home”, “My Car”, and “My Fuel Station”. All ideas could be voted on by other users, and the submissions that received the most votes were evaluated for implementation. Users who submitted ideas selected for implementation were awarded with physical gifts (iPads, fuel cards, etc.) encouraging greater participation. As a result of the initiative, Total S.A was able to uncover invaluable insights for improving their offerings, while also letting their clientele know that they cared about their needs – humanizing their brand in the process.
Here are just some of the ways you can utilize innovation management to identify, develop, and implement valuable ideas.
- Harness Employee Expertise: Encourage employee innovation with brainstorming sessions and co-creation tasks. It may seem old fashioned, but having an online ‘suggestion box’ for random ideas could also help you find diamonds in the rough.
- Capture Creativity from Outside Sources : Crowdsource key insights from customers, partners, and other external stakeholders via open innovation
- Unleash the Competitive Instinct: Run hackathons to add a competitive dimension to innovation projects and incentivise internal and external stakeholders to contribute their best ideas.
- Streamline Idea Workflows: Develop the funnel your ideas must progress through to become actualized, adding key approval ‘gateways’ and assigning the decision makers who must oversee them.
By using a combination of these approaches, you can help ensure that idealization at your company yields the best possible results.
- It Can Ensure Outstanding and Repeatable ROI
The old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” holds particularly true when it comes to innovation. Although it’s vital to have the mechanisms in place to uncover great ideas, it’s just as critical to monitor how these ideas progress towards implementation and assess the impact they have on your bottom line.
Part of what makes innovation management so indispensable is that it gives companies a way to ‘incubate’ ideas – ensuring they are developed with input from multiple stakeholders so they are primed to generate optimal ROI. Incubation could involve assigning experts from relevant departments to assess the viability of an idea, enabling customers to vote on a range of new product options, or simply giving employees a means to up vote and comment on innovative suggestions.
One of the primary reasons why innovation management is important is that it allows new ideas to be actualized in a way that is methodical and supported by data. The Qmarkets platform makes it easy to manage all aspects of idea ‘incubation’ , as well as track the ROI of innovation projects.
A central component of innovation management is the gathering of key metrics – profits gained, market adoption levels, positive feedback, etc. – that can inform adjustments that need to be made for future projects. This, in turn, can help minimize the risk and uncertainty associated with the development of new products and services, as well as reveal what innovative practices consistently generate value. Armed with this data, you can take your innovation endeavors from strength to strength.