The idea of innovation in business or IT is generally an aspiration to most. Leaders and managers occasionally mention the need to innovate but when they stop to consider what that means many of them abandon it as an impossible dream. They wait for some strange spark, some odd occurrence to somehow spark the flame of new beginnings.
Execution of the Innovation Process
Inspiration for innovation or creativity can come from anywhere. Frequently the innovation problem isn’t a lack of good ideas, or even innovative solutions–, too often it is a lack of execution. Even though I’ve laid out a proposed business model for an innovation process in the post From Collaboration to Innovation to Market – Toward a Working Model too often the champions, or the owners for the process are missing from the major stages of execution. There must be an “owner” or a “champion” at each stage, they might be the same person, or it might be a different person, but each stage needs someone to champion the new innovation to maturity and then to completion or it will die in the process.
The three stages I have defined are concieve, develop, and market. For example, the conceive stage might have a marketing or sales person “own” that process to its development handoff. That does not mean that engineering or some other key person from the development area should not be active in the early conception stages, only that the stakeholder(s) with the most influence at that stage should own that portion of the process. At the develop stage it might be key product or service leaders who then move the idea from infancy and from concept to tangible product or service offering. And then finally the market stage must have a champion from sales or marketing (or both) to ensure that it is properly positioned and prepared for market trials and finally the sales launch.
Without that critical leader at each stage of the process there is little chance of many successful innovations in products or services. Your innovation engine will quickly run out of gas and go nowhere. If you pursue any kind of innovation initiative without these key champions any “innovation” that survives will likely be more like minor tweaks or changes, more like continuous improvement than real innovation. Those small incremental changes are the only things that might survive the process without strong leaders moving them forward.
Business Product, Service, and IT Innovation Series
A structured approach to innovation, to creating new products or services is possible, but it takes a deliberate, concerted and focused effort. I’ve laid out the various posts on this site that explore how to create a business-centered innovation process:
From Collaboration to Innovation to Market – Toward a Working Model
A process oriented approach toward a process model for moving from collaboration to innovation to market. A first pass at integrating collaboration with a structured creative process and moving from idea (conceive) to design (develop) to market (sell).
Business Strategy and IT Strategy to Reproduce Apple Innovation
Overview of Apple Innovation and the focus on Jobs as the head of Apple. The apple innovation secret (if it can be called that at all) is about relentlessly pursuing the customer experience at the point of customer frustration. Where there is customer frustration or customer dissatisfaction there is opportunity for gaining market share for the company who is able to address that point of frustration.
Striving for a Customer Focused Approach to Innovation 1 of 3
Categorizing and Defining the 3 primary types of corporate innovation. I’ve dubbed these as “Stoic” (minimalist or continuous improvement); the “Stretch” (striving for a known future state); and the “Maelstrom” (directionless chaotic storm of ideas). The names you use really don’t matter, but these are the 3 types of what companies call “innovation” that I have seen.
Striving for a Customer Focused Approach to Innovation 2 of 3
Explaining the use of an “innovation narrative” in the “Stretch” type of innovation. This method produces a future state narrative which may not be achievable but provides a customer and market focused direction to aspire to for new products or services. That narrative acts as a future state blueprint for product or service development to move toward.
Striving for a Customer Focused Approach to Innovation 3 of 3
Practical ideas and practical application of some methods of moving toward an innovation culture. Some specific examples around how SAP (the big ERP vendor) has been very successful at integrating their customers, vendors, and their internal organization into an extended development dialog are explored. Includes an overview of how this all ties into the collaboration model I started in a post entitled “From Collaboration to Innovation to Market – Toward a Working Model”.
Good luck on your innovation journey!
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