Innovation Management – what and how of innovation

Innovation is a buzzword today and has been so in the past few decades. This post discusses innovation management.

Innovation is the theme of this blog. I have gone through and written a lot of posts on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

I believe that the innovation management has hitherto remained the most difficult and under-explored topic.

Companies, universities and research focus groups, all contribute towards better and effective innovation management.

This has helped in the formation of innovation clusters which act like role models to rest of the world.

We all know ‘Silicon valley’ as IT innovation hub while ‘Amsterdam’ is a hub for flowers of all varieties. ‘Cambridge innovation cluster‘ is another innovation management agglomeration to enlighten innovation managers globally.


Innovation management by Cambridge cluster


We have heard a lot about innovation in various forms. All firms are innovating regularly.

Still, a few firms are better that their competitors.

Do they have some secret sauce while they cook their growth strategies?

The key question is how to reap the benefits of innovation through effective innovation management.

So, is this post going to decode the secret of innovation and entrepreneurship?

Not really.

Had I known the secrets, I would have been in the Bahamas with my family right now planning my next trip to Bora Bora islands.

But, I do believe that this post will still be useful for subtle improvements and a better understanding of innovation management.

I intend to learn from the leaders, innovators and share my learning.

So, the post is a collection of wisdom that has been showered upon us by the greats.

However, as always, the post has some of my inputs and reflections of what I have gained over the years through reading, practising, learning and sharing.


What is innovation management?


Image Courtesy- The SMU Blog


Before we get on to innovation management, we need to know the definition of innovation?

You hear it all the time. We describe new advancements in industries as being “innovative.” But what exactly is innovation, why is it so important, and how can you be innovative?

In short, innovation in business terms is creating something new that has a market and can be monetised. Yes, it’s that simple.

Innovation can thus be through a change in existing product or process or via a new product and process.

It often refers to making something more efficient or effective than what the industry previously had.

Across the board, it denotes something better than earlier versions. It may mean that the business is more productive or performs better than its competitors.

Innovation is described as a new idea, new process, a new method, or product.

Innovation is the entire process it takes for us to come up with a product, and those ideas and processes that lead up to the product.

Without innovation, this process would just be an invention.

Innovation management is when we manage these innovations. This involves a series of processes that focus on the product of innovation and organisation of innovation.

There are a few things that it includes and makes it up.

There are also different steps that are involved in the process.  A simplified innovation cycle can be shown as in the image below.




However, when you go even further with these thoughts and processes and put them to work creatively, then you have innovation.

These actions, no matter what steps they may require or what steps you take to achieve them, are considered innovation only when they are positive or can lead up to something positive.

In most cases, effective innovation management can open up a new market for customer needs with monetary benefits attached to itself.

Innovation management is presenting these new key ideas and thoughts, putting them to work and working in a positive way bringing to light a new product that consumers want and need.

When you’re capable of putting all these things together and coming up with new and creative ideas to help the company grow and expand, this is a form of innovation management.

You are allowing the company to move forward and presenting with new consumer needs that can help a company continue to build profits.

However, even beyond the expansion of products and profits, it’s also making a positive impact towards and with the consumers.


The process of innovation management

There are a few different methods in which this can be achieved. Catalysts of innovation and creativity and effective understanding of cycle help in the process of innovation management.

In one of these methods, we take what we already have and work on those which can lead to new and existing ideas to be taken even further.

The other method involves finding of ‘customer needs’ not being met till now and using innovative techniques to offer them and proactively focus on the products to make the customers happier.

With so many competitors out there, it’s important that this is a cycle that is worked on and built upon to keep from being overtaken.

Managers have to learn how to cut back on the time it takes to deliver a product or service all without sacrificing the quality of the product and its outcome.

The company comes together with creativity, innovation and learns how to come up with new ideas and methods to do things and so forth.

When these things go hand in hand successfully, management is then capable of coming together and forming new ideas, working on products, and expand to work with other firms and corporations to get more projects and produce an economic stimulus.

A large part of innovation will also be the technology departments working together to further their knowledge and how to make things work more smoothly and better.

The why and how of managing innovation article in Harvard Business Review by Gary Hamel explores this academically and comprehensively.


So, how can we manage innovation?

Managing innovation is some work and some brainstorming. Maybe much more than that.





Here are some suggestions that can help in innovation management to stay ahead of the competition:


  1. Know your market’s current environment and look for needs or desires that are not being filled or not being filled adequately. This allows you to find areas that are in need of innovation.


  1. Develop a plan to respond to that need. Take a look at the current solutions or how a solution can be adapted to fit a new need.


  1. Think creatively. Some of the best and most influential ideas in the world were created by those who simply took time to step outside of the box and think differently. Don’t let your list of solutions be controlled by what the market already has or already does.


  1. Look for outside help. Sometimes, the person with the idea that will change the industry isn’t actually inside that industry. Seek advice not just from people inside your industry, but throughout the market.


A detailed story on how to manage innovation can be found in this link of Forbes Article that provides great insights on innovation, processes and innovation management.



Larger scope of innovation management

Innovation management does not simply mean that we have invented something new and we go with the process of maximum monetization of the same.

On the contrary, it often means that we have taken something old and adapted it so that it functions in a new way, whether that is faster, smarter, or less expensive.

In the business world, innovations often mean better products and services, at lower prices.

It indicates a creativity, especially in problem-solving.

This is why innovation management is so important.

Leaders and motivators have their own stories to motivate innovators and entrepreneurs in the process of innovation and its management through innovation quotes.

Entrepreneurs should constantly be looking for ways to innovate, as it allows them to offer a better product or service, at a lower cost, to both the consumer and the business.

Innovation Management is the key to staying competitive, especially in a very competitive market.

Finding the problems that consumers are currently having and looking for creative ways to solve those problems will make sure that you stay ahead of your competition.

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