Innovation management shapes the structures and framework conditions so that innovation potentials can be systematically identified, ideas generated and then successfully implemented. The scope of innovation management also depends on the size of the company. An SME usually has no explicit innovation processes and roles, but is represented in existing structures or only as a project. As a rule, a medium-sized company already needs its own innovation management to promote ideas and innovations.
5 steps to introduce innovation management
If an organization decides to establish an innovation management system, the following five steps are recommended:
- Mission of management and objectives.
Successful innovation management is based on the management commitment of the company's management. The basis for this is a clear mandate from above in which the goals, purpose and expectations of innovation management are defined. The responsibilities, budgets and framework conditions are also defined here.
- Strategic orientation of innovation activities
Based on the mandate, the strategic guidelines are defined in the form of an innovation vision.
- Definition of the search fields
Search fields are strategic subject areas on the basis of markets, product fields or technologies where a company wants to innovate. They are identified by strategic tools such as trend, technology and market analyses.
- Start of brainstorming
Ideas from the most diverse sources of ideas and with innovation methods are now searched for and developed within the search fields.
- Design of the innovation process
The innovation process defines the management of an idea from the strategic search to the successful market launch and its handover to the operative management. The process is thus the heart of innovation management.
Setting up and operating an innovation management system - increasing innovation performance
These five steps described above are the first step in innovation management. Innovation management is a living process with a constant focus on the following elements:
- Corporate foresight and trends
- Innovation strategy
- Brainstorming and scouting
- Innovation process, responsibilities and project management
- Innovation controlling and innovation portfolio
- Innovation culture
- Supporting processes, e. g. Open Innovation, Knowledge Management, Intellectual Property
The aim is to build up these elements in innovation management and to constantly develop and optimize them. At the same time, the aim is always to increase innovation capacity and innovation performance.
7 Success factors for the introduction of innovation management
Companies expect great challenges, especially in the introduction of innovation management. If fundamental mistakes are made here or if important decisions are missed, this can cause problems throughout the entire process. Therefore, organizations must pay attention to the following success factors in all cases:
- Management Commitment to Innovation
Management commitment is one of the most important success factors in innovation management. In the absence of corporate management support, innovation leaders will waste their time fighting against windmills.
The commitment of all managers, from top to bottom, is the basis of the innovation process. This is because it secures the necessary support for innovations that are now happening outside of the day-to-day business (where a company earns the money) from all areas. Support, time and budgets are necessary fuels for the success of innovation, which can only be achieved through commitment to innovation.
- Strategic orientation
If the strategic orientation of innovation activities is lacking, there is a lack of goal, path and orientation. This makes it difficult for those in charge of innovation to assess where and what to look for, which innovation topics have priority and thus difficult to make the right decisions.
Therefore, the innovation strategy must be defined on the basis of future trends, opportunities, risks and challenges as well as the corporate strategy:
Based on these answers, the innovation vision, its strategy and the innovation roadmap emerge. These elements are the basis of all innovation activities, be it the development of ideas, the prioritization of innovation projects or decisions in projects.
- What is the purpose of innovation and what do we want to achieve in the future?
- What is the contribution of innovation to corporate strategy?
- What are our future topics and search fields?
- Clear responsibilities
The innovation process is a highly interdisciplinary process and requires the involvement of many functional areas and employees in order to successfully implement a new product or service idea.
It is therefore necessary to clearly define what is expected of the employees. Above all, it is also about defining the roles in the innovation process. For example, the tasks of sales, production, purchasing, etc. in innovation projects are clearly defined with regard to their contribution to the success of innovation.
In addition, the project roles are defined in individual innovation projects and must be perceived with commitment. This includes, for example, the role of the project manager, the project town councillor and the important project team members.
- Innovation culture
Innovations require completely different structures and cultures in comparison to operative management and work. Operational business is built on routine and efficiency, while innovation is always about innovation. This requires different values and attitudes, for example openness to try out new and new things, willingness to take risks, thinking across borders, accepting mistakes and much more.
Therefore, a company must build up a positive innovation culture where innovations are welcome and encouraged. Measures to promote a culture of innovation are implemented at various levels:
- Raising employee awareness of innovation, e. g. through communication measures.
- Motivation, e. g. incentives for promoting innovation.
- Empowerment of employees for innovation, e. g. training courses on creativity and the innovation process.
- Active involvement of employees, e. g. through innovation competitions.
- Creation of spaces and structures for innovation, e. g. flat hierarchies, freedom and resources.
- Change Management
The introduction of innovation management requires a change and also the implementation of innovations themselves necessitate changes. These changes can only become effective if they are supported by all employees themselves and if the workforce itself actively changes.
Therefore, change management itself is an extremely important tool and belongs to the repertoire of every innovation manager. Innovations put a company into continuous change and therefore it requires a conscious and constant management of these changes in order to take all employees on the journey.
- Integration of all employees
Innovation is not something that only a limited, elitist circle of employees does or is even boosted by the innovation manager. Innovation must be actively initiated and supported by all employees. That is why the innovation manager must involve all employees in a targeted manner.
On the one hand, this includes awareness-raising measures to inspire and motivate all employees for innovation, but also structural measures for active involvement, such as pitching contests, innovation competitions or classic idea management.
Innovation must become a permanent initiative that is supported and actively shaped by all employees.
Cooperation is an essential success factor in innovation processes and projects. Innovations always happen in interdisciplinary teams and require the cooperation of many employees. It is important, however, that everyone pulls together and pursues a common goal. Otherwise, different demands lead to silos, lack of cooperation and support or problems at the interfaces, which in the end can seriously slow down an innovation project or even cause it to fail.
For this reason, a company must place great emphasis on the fact that all employees pursue a common goal - on the one hand in terms of innovation vision and, on the other hand, in the individual projects. Everyone must have the common, great goal in mind and focus their energies on it. Only in this way can all innovation potentials be used productively and facilitate the success of innovation.
Conclusion - 7 important success factors for the introduction of innovation management
Innovation management and innovation can experience many stumbling blocks. It is therefore essential to pay extreme attention to this, to promote the success factors and to eliminate the risks. As the points described above demonstrate, the most important success factor is the "human being". Without the commitment, support and encouragement of all managers and employees, any innovation is doomed to failure. Therefore, every innovation initiative must focus on people.