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Definition of Innovation Management

Innovation has never been as present as it is today, everybody talks about innovation, innovation is everywhere. But what is innovation and what does innovation management mean?

Innovation management encompasses all measures to promote and utilize innovation - renewal - within the company.

"Innovation" comes from the Latin word "innovare" and stands for renewal. From an economic point of view, innovation is something new that brings benefits for an organization or / and for society.

Terms that are often associated with innovation are idea and invention. An invention or invention is to be distinguished in so far as it is not yet exploited as a creative achievement of a new problem solution compared to innovation. It is the same with the idea, which is a creative thought something new.

In all cases, "new" is always relative. New it can be for this situation, the company or the world.

"Management" is a term that is constantly used in companies. He is responsible for managing a task and coordinating activities to achieve a defined purpose and goals.

As a result, innovation management is the systematic promotion of innovations in organizations and includes tasks of planning, organization, management and control.

Innovative management deals with all measures to promote innovation in organizations and to generate benefits, for example:

  • New products and services to conquer new markets.
  • Improved products and services to stand out from the competition.
  • Improve internal processes to strengthen the company from the inside or to save costs.
  • Development of new business models to use new sources of income.

What are the tasks in innovation management?

Innovation management is two major pillars:

  • On the one hand, the shaping of framework conditions, so that ideas are always created in the company and implemented into successful innovations. The focus here is on organizational development activities.
  • And, on the other hand, the actual innovation, active search, development and implementation of ideas. This requires, for example, creativity and project management.

The fields of action of innovation management include, among others

  • Future management: Identification of trends and future opportunities and risks.
  • Development of the innovation strategy and planning of the innovation activities, for example with an innovation roadmap.
  • Organization and roles in innovation management, such as decision-making structures and process ownership.
  • Ideas management to find, develop and evaluate ideas.
  • Innovation process for transforming an idea into a successful innovation: concept development, business plan, solution development, prototyping, implementation and marketing.
  • Designing an innovation culture that promotes innovation.
  • Portfolio management and innovation control (for example, innovation indicators) to control innovation activities.
  • Dealing with patents and protective rights.
  • Open innovation and innovation networks to exploit external sources of innovation and resources.
  • Change management in the context of innovation projects.

The diversity of activities in innovation management also makes it clear that they are interlinked with all areas of the company. Innovations affect everyone. 

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".

Improvement vs. innovation

Innovation is renewal. Improvement is also the implementation something new, but with a lower novelty degree and it is usually the optimization or extension of existing.

The boundary between innovation and improvement blurs. What innovation is and what is improvement, can not be clearly defined and is also different depending on the viewer.

Improvement management has a long tradition in companies. It includes a variety of management methods and approaches to improve existing products, processes and organizations. Many of them have their origin in quality management. Here are some examples:

  • Continuous Improvement Process (CIP): All employees are motivated and empowered to constantly question and improve processes in teamwork. The basis is the PDCA cycle (Plan - Do - Check - Act).
  • Kaizen: "Let no day pass without any improvement in the company" is the message of Kaizen, which originates in Japan and is similar to the KVP.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM): The focus is on the quality of the processes and products, including the employees, to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Operational suggestion (BVW): The goal is to encourage employees to think about it. They are given the opportunity to spontaneously submit ideas, which are then treated, implemented and rewarded in a clearly regulated process.
  • Improvement and innovation go hand in hand. A company must stick to its flag, both continuous improvement and innovation.

Conclusion - definition innovation management

Innovation management covers all measures to promote and exploit innovations in the company. Not only the new is the focus, but also the benefit of the innovation. The goal is new and improved products, new business models or new processes. 


Jannik Böckenholt

As an expert for New Business Development, Jannik is your reliable companion for new commercial ventures. When it comes to the restructuring of innovation processes or the application of innovation methods, the learned project manager guides you to your objective step by step, while making sure there is fun along the way with his inspiring storytelling in the workshops he moderates.

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