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Do you know the maturity level of your innovation management?

More than 60 % of new products fail on the market. And many new developments do not even make it onto the market. And this is exactly where innovation management comes in to increase innovation performance and success and to avoid wasting resources. This makes it all the more important to have professional innovation management.

Maturity models provide a sound analysis and elaboration of improvement measures for innovation management.

Innovation of innovation management

Innovations operate in a challenging environment characterized by uncertainties, risks and complexities. Systematic innovation management can avoid the flops and significantly increase success rates. It is therefore also important to continuously improve and innovate innovation management. To do this, you need to know where the biggest levers are. And you can only identify them if you know your current status and thus your degree of maturity.



Maturity level of innovation management

The principle of a maturity model is the description of key skills and characteristics on the basis of maturity levels. The key capabilities are defined in different clusters. Here the example of the maturity model of Khan/Möhrle for the evaluation of innovation capability:


Source: Lecture "Innovation Management in the Energy Industry" by Prof. Moehrle at the Lead User Symposium of the TU Hamburg-Harburg on January 28, 2016

Optimization of innovation management using maturity models

A typical process for the optimization of innovation management with a maturity model is carried out in 3 steps.

Step 1: Assessment of the current situation

Before the actual start, the goals and expectations are to be defined. The evaluation of the maturity levels, i.e. the actual situation, is usually carried out by means of an assessment based on a questionnaire completed by the employees. One success factor here is that as many employees as possible from the most diverse hierarchical levels and areas are involved...

  • thus you get an extensive, deep insight with a representative picture.
  • Analyses provide further insights, e.g. internal discrepancies can be revealed when evaluating on the basis of functional areas.

Step 2: Analysis of results and derivation of measures

A subsequent discussion, interpretation and analysis of the results by the participants and key persons with possibly also external experts such as consultants provide further insights and background information.

Based on the analysis, potentials are identified and measures derived. Where a relatively low degree of maturity has been determined, activities to optimise innovation management are defined and prioritised.

Step 3: Controlling the measures

After a reasonable time, after which it is realistic that the optimization measures have been implemented and are taking effect, the effectiveness should be checked by a new assessment. It is also important that step 2 explicitly specifies the fields of action in which the degree of maturity is to be increased and that target values are defined. This defines the target situation, which can also be defined before the assessment. In this way, the effectiveness of the measures can be evaluated on a quantitative level.


Note: This is an example of an evaluation of the maturity model.


Benefits and advantages of maturity models

The optimization of innovation management by means of assessments and maturity models is connected with effort, but it brings many advantages:

  • It is a systematic and step-by-step optimization of innovation management by recording the current situation, defining the target situation, developing an action plan and evaluating its implementation and effectiveness. Also in line with the Deming motto "If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Manage It".
  • It is a well-founded analysis that identifies the strongest levers for optimizing innovation management. You deal with facts instead of just guesswork.
  • Many maturity models such as that of Khan/Möhrle are based on a comprehensive literature analysis. This ensures that all relevant perspectives and aspects of innovation management are taken into account.
  • It brings extensive knowledge about strengths, weaknesses and potentials. Above all, the broad involvement of stakeholders in the innovation process provides a deep insight and many approaches and ideas for optimization.
  • It enables a broad involvement of employees, on the one hand in the assessment, where this is very easy by means of questionnaires, and on the other hand in the workshops for analysis and derivation of measures. Besides the added value of the different perspectives and competencies, this also has a very positive side effect on the change process. This involvement increases awareness of the potential in innovation management and commitment to the measures defined.
  • Both the current status and the effectiveness of the implemented measures can be analysed quantitatively. This makes innovation management measurable. It is very interesting to regularly evaluate the innovation management by means of maturity level models. In this way, the effectiveness of the measures and the further development of innovation management can be measured very clearly.
  • Many analysis tools based on maturity models also offer benchmarking. This allows you to compare your innovation performance with other companies. On the other hand, best practices can be discovered where learning from the best is possible.

Success factors - what to look for.

Broad involvement and commitment from top management guarantee successful work with maturity models and the joint implementation of the identified measures in the sense of change management.

For a representative result, a broad integration of all functional areas is also critical to success.

Depending on the choice of model and the extent of integration, assessment using maturity models can also involve considerable effort. This effort must be acceptable and related to the benefit. 

However, there is always a benefit if you proceed systematically and focus on improvement measures for innovation management. The results alone are only knowledge and only bring results if they lead to actions, i.e. successful implementation.

The results must always be considered with regard to the company-specific requirements. For example, if a company that is very technology-driven and where voice of customer has less potential in the innovation process is below average when it comes to integrating customers, this does not necessarily mean that there are deficits here.

Results in figures must not always be overemphasized and taken at face value, because there may also be a fictitious truth behind them. Therefore, it is always important to look closely at the results: statistically, for example analyses based on functional areas, scattering, etc., but also analytically for researching causes and facts.

But also the interpretations of the results allow a lot of leeway. Many views and perspectives must therefore be listened to in order to avoid misinterpretations.

And in order to avoid operational blindness, it is therefore advisable to bring external experts such as consultants on board. This provides a professional external view and additional expertise in the application of the maturity model, in the analysis of the results and in the definition of measures.

Which maturity model should be used?

There are numerous models, e.g. ISO 15504 for the analysis of innovation processes or the example of Khan/Möhrle. An overview can also be found in the dissertation "Maturity model for controlling the innovation system of companies" by Christian Bürgin at ETH Zurich. This also includes an evaluation of the individual models.

When choosing a model, it is important to answer the following questions for yourself:

  • How much effort would I like to invest?
  • What results do we expect?
  • Is the model complete and understandable for us?
  • Does it fit our organization?
  • Do I need a professional escort?
  • Do we want benchmarking?

Conclusion: Do you know the maturity level of your innovation management?

Maturity models offer a sound analysis and development of improvement measures for innovation management. They have many advantages, such as the possibility of broad stakeholder involvement or the measurement of effectiveness through repeated application. If you want to develop innovation management professionally, maturity models are the optimal tool. 


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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