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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 11-Oct-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ

5 factors how to avoid innovation flops


Innovation flops cost a lot of time and money. Up to 90 percent of all product interventions are not successful on the market. There are many reasons for this. We shed light on five factors that are decisive for successful innovation and enable breakthrough innovations.


  1. Factor: Management Commitment and Budget

To avoid innovation flops, the commitment of management, board or owner must be in place: The basis of every successful innovation is a clear mandate from management in which the innovation goals, purpose and expectations of innovation management are defined. This also includes the definition of responsibilities, budgets and framework conditions. If these prerequisites are lacking, then innovation projects either run out of steam halfway or strategic alignment does not take place. Read more about this in our article "Management as an obstacle to innovation - 6 tips on what you can do about it".


  1. Factor: Putting together the right team

Professor Eberhard Witte's promoter model provides a very good basis for putting together the right innovation team. According to this model, promoters are people who intensively and actively promote an innovation process. Their main task is to break down and overcome barriers in connection with innovation processes in the company. There are different types of promoters.

  • The power promoter is located at a high hierarchical level and has the task of convincing the innovation project (see Factor 1). Due to his position in the company, he can significantly influence the innovation process. He is responsible for removing any barriers in the company and approving budgets for the next development phases.
  • The specialist promoter contributes relevant specialist and methodological knowledge. He knows his way around the industry, knows what has already been tried or invented and which patents already exist.
  • The process promoter has a high level of organizational knowledge, coordinates, organizes and controls processes and objectives. It is familiar with the areas and departments that have to be integrated for an innovation project in order to avoid the not invented here syndrome. The process promoter thus has above all a linking and mediating function.

Handbook Creativity Meetings

Since marketing and advertising are becoming increasingly important, you should also involve a person from your marketing or sales department in the innovation process. This ensures that the market side is also taken into account in the innovation process through appropriate innovation marketing and that you are successful with your invention on the market.


  1. Factor: Search Field Definition and Trend Fit

An essential point to avoid innovation flops is the clear definition of search fields. This involves defining strategic subject areas on the basis of markets, product fields or technologies where a company wants to innovate. Strategic tools such as trend, technology and market analyses can be used to identify search fields.

One of the first and most important questions in the innovation process is for whom something new should be invented. As long as you cannot answer this question clearly, you are in the dark. During brainstorming you may like some ideas, others not at all - but a well-founded evaluation of these ideas is not possible, because you do not know exactly for whom the idea is supposed to provide a benefit.


  1. Factor: User Integration

The biggest stumbling block for a flop lies in the lack of user integration. Because forget to involve the user and - following on from the third factor search field definition - do not clearly answer the question of who something is invented for, then you are passing the market by.

In this context, equating users with customers would be too short of the mark. Users can be found along the entire value chain - this can be the construction worker who uses a certain product on the construction site or the end user who uses the building as a resident.

When it comes to user integration, however, it is also crucial not to involve just any user, but a trend-setting user. This can be a LEAD User for complex innovations or an early adopter for innovation projects with a lower degree of innovation. However, only around two percent of all users meet the requirements to participate in innovation development.


  1. Factor: Learning from analog fields

The degree of novelty of an innovation is often too low, since in product development one concentrates only on incremental improvements, i.e. optimization and further development, and does not make the big leap. In order to avoid innovation flops, it is therefore very helpful to deal with analogies, to integrate analog fields and to learn from them.

When working with analogies, systematic methods and the use of LEAD Users' know-how are used to transfer knowledge from other specialist areas. Familiar thought patterns can be broken up and new approaches to solving problems can be developed. In addition, this approach saves the R&D budget and reduces the time required for innovation development.


Conclusio: Avoid innovation flops

In order to avoid innovation flops, management must stand behind the innovation project, the innovation team must be put together sensibly and the innovation must be developed for the market. The latter can be achieved through a clear definition of search fields, the inclusion of progressive users and the use of analogies. Read more about innovation flops in our article "3 examples of innovation flops you can learn from".

9 tips for creativity meetings

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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