INNOVATION PROCESS MANAGEMENT (IPM)
With the growing popularity of innovation initiatives, ever more companies are launching their own actions. However, many are going forward in a piecemeal fashion, running a brainstorming event here, trying out an ideas campaign there and promoting innovation in vague ways in marketing communications. Such an approach works, somewhat, but it is not ideal.
The best approach is to have a comprehensive innovation process management (IPM) structure that treats innovation as a series of cycles that run within a grand, enterprise innovation process cycle.
The Innovation Process Cycle
Scientific Peer Review Evaluation
The scientific approach of peer review by expert, on the other hand, is ideally suited for identifying the most promising ideas in a cycle. Instead of basing selection on popularity (can you imagine Einstein sending his special theory of relativity to the public for a vote in order to determine its validity?) or the whim of a manager, you apply a set of business criteria to the idea and rank how well the idea meets each criterion. If an idea achieves a sufficiently high ranking, either as is or through additional modification, it should be developed further.
Testing and Development
Prototypes are an excellent means for testing ideas. Not only do they allow you, your colleagues, customers and others to see how an idea would actually look in implementation, but building and playing with a prototype is a good method of further improving upon the core idea. Prototypes are, of course, ideally suited towards material ideas such as new products. But more abstract ideas, such as new services, process improvements and other concepts can often be prototyped through role-play, building structural models and making diagrams.
New Needs and Inspiration
Integrated Innovation Process Management
An innovative company, however, should not have a single innovation process cycle in operation. Rather it should have many of them! Large cycles are suitable for enterprise-wide innovation. Meanwhile, business units can run somewhat smaller innovation process cycles in order to manage their own ideas (although it should be noted, collaborative groups need not be limited to employees of that business unit). Teams, departments and any other group can also run their own innovation process cycles.
However, these innovation process cycles should not be in isolation. Rather they should inspire and feed other cycles elsewhere in the organisation. For instance, the implementation of a new product idea should inspire innovation cycles in the marketing, sales and customer service divisions as well as at the enterprise level.
Managers should watch their colleagues' innovation process cycles and ruthlessly copy ideas as inspirations for their own cycles.
The Result: a Highly Innovative Organisation
By applying innovation process management across your entire organisation, you can transform it into one which is innovation driven. And that is a sure way to keep well ahead of the competition, survive this financial crisis and make your firm a great place to work. Is there anything more you could possibly want from work?
Jenni is an innovation process management web application you can use to manage your innovation process. Jenni helps you set up and run ideas campaigns that might include your entire workforce, the general public or specific teams. Jenni provides evaluation tools that help you determine with scientific accuracy which ideas hold the greatest potential value and facilitates the move from idea to implementation.
If you are responsible for innovation in a medium to large firm, you should check out Jenni! You'll find she makes your work much easier!
A version of this article originally appeared in in the 17 March 2009 issue of Report 103.
© 2009 jpb.com