Ideas come from everywhere. Many people have come up with new ideas for new products and inventions, but how many of these actually make a go and become successful companies? Of course, in some cases someone has to take credit for the idea. Inventors receive the credit, and sometimes their ideas are taken to the next level before they are commercialized. This is innovation management in action. Sometimes it is worth getting someone else in the business to do the necessary planning and market research to see if their idea will actually gain any traction and become successful.
There are several perspectives on innovation management. One perspective is to use metrics in order to track new product and technology introductions and the success or failure of such introductions. Metrics may include such things as customer satisfaction surveys, case studies, or even market segments. Sometimes it is a simple matter of tracking sales, costs, and the results of marketing campaigns. However, sometimes it takes more sophisticated metrics to get an accurate picture of success.
Another perspective on innovation management is to look at different ways in which the company can explore and discover new innovations. Companies may explore different ways in which to do the innovation process, or they may choose to rely on a single company for all the innovation management functions. It all depends on the perspective of the company, the resources available, and the time allowed for such exploratory activities.
Before looking into the various perspectives on innovation management, let us consider the definition of ‘innovation’. The dictionary meaning of the word is, ‘to create something new or an improvement upon an existing thing or situation’. Something new can be anything from a product to a process. However, something new cannot be anything old. In order for something new to be considered as an innovation, it has to be something different, better, or different in some way. Something that has been tried before but with new innovation steps, is not considered as an innovation, but mere repetitious operation.
Thus, to make innovation management effectively, one must adopt the perspective of not only identifying what makes something innovative, but what makes something new or different. The definition of innovation can then be related directly to the definition of innovation management. One must also ask, what are the different ways in which companies can make or discover new innovations? If you have an idea for a product but cannot think of any different ways in which you can make your innovation, you are likely to fall into a pattern of repeating innovation.
Often companies that do not necessarily need innovation but wish to use innovation in their business will ask for it. Sometimes companies will put in place simple steps that they think will stimulate them into innovation mode. For example, if a company undertakes a survey or questionnaire that they believe will enlighten their client, if the questionnaire does not have simple steps, the company may very well decide not to undertake the entire exercise. It is important to have innovation capabilities within a company; however, this does not mean that every company will be a part of an innovation process. Smaller organizations have more innovating potential than larger ones, especially if small incremental improvements are made along the way. Larger organizations will often put all of their innovation efforts in one big bang, often spending millions on a single innovation project.
Innovation management therefore involves identifying and describing the different ways in which innovative ideas can be brought into a company culture. It also involves defining what ‘innovation’ means and how to foster it in a company culture. Finally, it involves creating a good working environment for experimentation and fostering the idea generation process in a company culture. Only when these three aspects of innovation are in place will a company be able to create something new.