Innovation is about adapting to an environment that is always turbulent and often hostile. It is not enough for a manager simply to cope with today’s challenges. You need to be thinking about the challenges that will face your organization in the near future.
Expecting the Unexpected
Like human beings, organizations tend to view the world in terms of what they expect. Contemporary business is extremely complicated. And seemingly distant changes can suddenly turn out to have a huge impact close to home. As the 2008-09 global financial crisis amply demonstrated. While, for the most part, your organization can rely upon established models. Radical changes in the business environment do sometimes occur. And innovation is essential to coping with them. It is vital for the innovative manager to consider not the only how to innovate when things are going well. But also when they are going badly. Some current factors that have the potential to upset established business models include:
- Climate change
- Sustainability energy, and waste disposal
- Increase in digital commerce and telecommunications
- Social trends such as the ageing population in Western Europe and the US
- A shift in economic power to emerging markets
- The rise of consumerism in developing nations, especially those with large populations
Quick Tips: Research Challenges
Be aware of areas in which proposed innovations. It could help make your organization both more vulnerable and more resistant to outside challenges.
Dealing with the Unexpected
Dealing with the unexpected is part of the innovation challenge. In some ways, the most important part, as unexpected challenges can prove life-threatening to an organization. From Henry Ford working on “a car for every man”. To the IT specialists who moved banking, insurance, and stock trading online from paper. Or the revolution in the music and entertainment industry caused by Internet file-sharing. After all, new business models are constantly emerging. And in each case, established players were severely damaged because they responded too slowly. Hence, leaving the door open for new competitors. Some of whom have become today’s major players. To combat this, innovation managers should always try to answer the following questions:
- How can you search at the edge of your organization’s radar for problems and opportunities?
- Can you make sure your message gets listened to and acted upon when something important occurs?
- Will implementing innovations that are totally different from anything you have done in the past?
Making Innovation Happen
Once your innovative idea has been conceived and selected as worth pursuing. It needs to go through stages of development to make it a reality. It is important for any organization to have a standard process for developing innovations. Particularly if you intend to make regular changes.
The standard structure for the innovation process is to take your idea forward in stages. At each stage, the idea is reviewed to decide whether it is worth pursuing further. For every stage that is passed, an increasing amount of money, time, and resources must be dedicated to the project. This testing process is often described as a sort of a funnel. The mouth is wide, in that many ideas can begin the process. But more and more ideas will be rejected at each stage. As they are shown to be unworkable for one reason or another. Moreover, only the very best ideas – those that are most likely to succeed – will ultimately make it into development.
Quick Tips: Fix The Structure
Before a project starts, make sure that you fix the innovation structure. That all those involved are aware of the key stages.
Photo by Sopheon
Mapping the Route
Generally, there are four key stages. Of course, it could be more depending on your business operational practices. Or the model that you’re applying.
An idea must pass through before it enters the market or becomes a standard process. Firstly, the initial concept. A decision must be made as to whether the innovative idea has the potential to benefit your organization. Whether the predated costs merit further investment. Secondly, the following stage is a detailed exploration of the practicalities – how the concept might work in practice. And, indeed, whether it is physically possible. At the same time, the concept must be developed so that you can discuss and share it with others.
The third phase is testing, which may include building a prototype. As well as researching how people in your target market (customers, clients, or co-workers) react to it. Finally, once testing is complete, the product can be launched. But even after launch, its performance must be monitored to ensure your innovation provides the promised benefits.
Structuring the Process
Managing innovation through this process requires a well-defined structure. Especially if you want to repeat the process and keep on generating and implementing new products, services and processes. Not only must you establish each stage of the journey in detail. And provide a support structure to make sure your idea continues to progress. But you must also establish procedures for reviewing the project at each stage. And sometimes in-between stages. In order to ensure that it remains on track and still worth further investment. All of these procedures require resources. Additionally, your plan should include providing money, materials, and trained personnel to make an innovation project’s progress. Read Setting a Pace & Directing Innovation for more ideas.
Quick Tips: How To Plan The Process
- Chart out a clear pathway along which innovation can proceed.
- Fix key stages: initial idea, development, testing, and launch.
- Allocate resources: money, time, skills, and knowledge.
- Appoint a leader and team to take your projects on the journey.
- Fix the points to assess projects before granting more resources.