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5 Steps on how to introduce innovation management

There are different ideas and possibilities for innovation for every organization. In order to find them and use them systematically, innovation management is necessary to achieve maximum success. In this article, you will learn how to introduce innovation management in your company.

By following the five steps, a functioning innovation management will succeed.

Innovation is one of the most challenging management activities, not to say the king's discipline because

  • Firstly, new ones are handled with high uncertainty, risks and complexity; the flop rates are correspondingly high.
  • Secondly, the innovation process is a highly interdisciplinary process of change which requires the cooperation and commitment of almost all areas of the company. If a link does not work as a chain, the entire innovation vehicle does not work.

Innovation management is essentially about answering the following questions:

  • What does innovation mean to us?
  • What do we want to achieve with innovation?
  • What innovations do we need and seek?
  • How do we get to the ideas?
  • How do we identify the most promising ideas and turn an idea into a successful innovation?

In order to answer these questions correctly and thus to introduce innovation management profitably, one should follow these five steps.

Step 1: Order from management & targets

The basis of the King's discipline Innovation Management must be management commitment, because without the support of the management the death sentence is already written. Then it will lack budget, support at interfaces, rapid decisions, etc.

In order for innovation to function from above, the clear commitment also requires a clear mandate from the management. This is the first step towards the introduction of innovation management:
Expectations of innovation management
Objectives and purpose of innovation - what should be achieved?
Delimitation of innovation management, for example the task of research & development, product management, etc.
Organizational anchoring of innovation management: Which area is responsible? How to report to whom?
Definition of responsibilities: operational responsibility (there is an explicit innovation manager, is responsible for the product manager, for example) and strategic management responsibility (process ownership, promotors).
Further framework conditions, such as budgets or important stakeholders. 


Step 2: Strategic orientation of innovation activities

On the basis of the management contract, the strategic objectives of innovation are to be defined in the next step. At the outset, it does not require a sophisticated innovation strategy, but the rough strategic guidelines are to be defined.

If you have not defined what innovation means for the company, you are wrong in them of the jungle and you may get ideas that you can not do or want to do, and waste valuable resources.

The main strategic question to be answered at the start is thus:

What is the innovation vision: what is the contribution of innovation to the company strategy and what do we want to achieve with innovation?

Examples include growth, new market conquest, market leader in a particular market segment, innovation leader, service ...

This answer is the cornerstone of all innovation management activities. There must be clarity at all levels, because otherwise there will be no common goal and it will not be possible to pull everyone together. If this answer is clear and well-defined, these other strategic questions are also easy to answer:

Do we want to be an innovation leader or an excellent follower? Or do we stand for cost leadership?
What is our object of innovation: products, processes, business model, ...?
What is the desired degree of innovation and how much risk do we want to take?
How far do we want to innovate outside of our business?

From these answers, the innovation goals are derived, which provide orientation for all employees.

For the innovation strategy it is also necessary to determine how to measure the achievement and the success. Helpful tools are key figures or a strategy review.

Step 3: Specify search fields

The definition of search fields is also a task in strategic innovation management. Search fields are future topics in terms of markets, products, technologies, trends, etc. in which you want to innovate. They serve thematic focus in order to reach the innovation goals and give orientation, where one is to search for ideas.

Innovation methods for the identification of search fields

Trend and future analyzes
Technology analysis
Market analyzes (future customer needs, competition, changes in the market, for example, standards, laws, ...)
Expert workshops
Customer workshops (for example with lead users)
Literary research
Competence analysis
Analysis of the innovation tree

Search fields are not carved in stone. The definition of search fields should be a living process, so that one does not fall into a dead end:

Existing search fields are regularly asked for their relevance and priority,
And new search fields are to be identified and added in the course of the search for ideas.
A prominent and popular tool for management and communication are innovation roadmaps. The search fields are graphically and graphically rendered and displayed along a time axis.

The benefits of the roadmap are
The graphic processing, so the search fields can communicate very well.
And the roadmap provides orientation for all and is the basis for the idea.

Step 4: Start the search for ideas

Now it is about the idea, in the fourth step to the introduction of innovation management the ideas are collected. First ideas usually arise when the search fields are identified. This is now also to be included in the Ideenspeicher.

There are many ways to search for ideas. It is important that the methodology can also be used to find the ideas according to the search fields. If, for example, you are looking for technology ideas, it is awkward to ask the customer.

Here are four ways to make ideas:

The idea-finding process can be installed permanently and for all employees. Every employee has the opportunity to submit an idea at any time. This can be done via an idea management software or via defined contact persons, e.g. An innovation manager or the product manager.
Temporary initiatives such as ideas contests can be launched, where all employees or even customers and partners are invited to contribute their ideas to specific topics.
Another effective method is creativity workshops, where a variety of ideas can be collected in a short time.
Or you can apply an innovation method to generate ideas. For example, blue-ocean method, customer visits, Lead User workshops, cross-industry workshops, scenario engineering, or even patent analyzes, the list of possible methods is infinite.

All ideas are collected for editing in an idea store. And at the latest, you should have thought about how the innovation process can work.

Step 5: Design of the innovation process

The innovation process actually starts with the search field definition and covers the following steps:

Search field determination: which innovation projects are set for the next years?
Ideas: how do we get ideas?
Idea Definition: The idea is concretized to have all the necessary information for the evaluation.
Idea evaluation, prioritization and selection: The evaluation criteria are based on the strategy. The most important criteria are strategy-fit, customer benefit, market potential and feasibility.
Concept development or business plan: After an analysis phase, all essential functions, framework conditions and objectives are defined.
Development and testing: The product or service is developed and tested.
Implementation: It starts implementation in production, logistics, etc.
Market launch: Innovation is launched on the market.
Evaluation of innovation in the product lifecycle with a view to achieving the innovation objectives.

For the innovation process, there are various process models and tools such as stage gate, scrum, lean start-up, design thinking, project management, etc. Unfortunately, there is no patent recipe - one has to pick out from all process models what the individual requirements of the organization are Best and to derive a tailor-made process from this.

Depending on the size of the organization, IT support for the mapping, control and documentation of all ideas and innovation projects is also useful.

Innovation management as a long-term task

Innovation is an intensive and continuous process of change. Therefore, change management is part of the daily task of innovation management, not just in the introduction of innovation management:

Communication and information on innovation management.
Mobilization and inspiration of the employees and motivation to find and submit ideas
Designing an innovation culture that inspires employees for innovation and promotes innovation.

Innovation management and the innovation process are long-term tasks. It is impossible for Scratch to build the whole innovation system, but it is a learning process. It is advisable to start small with the most important functions and gradually develop and further develop the innovation system according to the experiences and requirements.
Further topics and functions in the innovation system are:
Innovative portfolio management
Innovation control
Patent Strategy and Patent Management
Open Innovation and Innovation Networks
Knowledge management

Conclusion - 5 Steps on how to introduce innovation management:

If the five steps are followed, a functioning innovation management will succeed. But it will never be finished. But this also offers the opportunity to continually develop and perfect innovation management in the interests of innovation innovation.

Want to dive deeper into the topic and learn how your organization can innovate holistically? For example, you can read about the framework that decision-makers need to create in order for an organization to become holistically innovative in the article " This is how CEOs make their company innovative".


Daniel Zapfl

With his comprehensive experience in holistic innovation management, Daniel brings valuable insights and best practices from various industries to your innovation project. He boldly and disruptively challenges conventional ways of thinking. As a TRIZ-certified sparring partner, Daniel will support you with creative solution-finding in a reliable and structured manner. More critical than the most discerning customer, he always has an eye on the big picture.

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