The Golden Rules of Innovation

by Andy Bruce

Like any other core business process there are some ‘rules’ of innovation management which will maximise the probability of success. These come under what we call “The 6 Ps”:

PLANNING – Innovation must be linked to strategy

  • Successful leaders link core business processes to their strategic goals and annual business planning targets, and innovation is no exception. Use a product-market matrix to clarify the extent and direction of your innovation. Without a strategic direction you run the risk of coming up with innovations that run counter to your businesses best interests!

PIPELINE – Maximise your sources of ideas

  • Once you have linked innovation to strategy you need to generate ideas for performance improvement – but where do your best ideas come from? Ideas come from any part of your organisation; from Open Innovation to internal brainstorming activities. Whatever the source of the idea, you need an effective process to capture, screen, prioritise and resource your ideas.

PROCESS – Ideas to evaluation to execution

  • Once exciting new ideas have been generated, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing them ‘fall through the cracks’ due to poor implementation. A rigorous approach based on good principles of project and management is required; schedule, sequence of activities and stakeholder management and ROI calculation are all key, as is Risk Management.

PEOPLE – Leaders and Champions

  • The most important factor in creating an innovative culture is having leaders with ability and commitment to succeed. Managers must understand what innovation is, how to manage it and how to motivate. It must go further than the Board – every department or team should have an Innovation Champion. This role should be seen as a career enhancing opportunity and rewarded accordingly. Pick your best people.

PLATFORM – Technology as the accelerator

  • IT systems are not the starting point for implementing an innovation framework, but they are critical enablers. Without an effective web-based innovation tracking system you cannot manage the ideas pipeline and people properly. Look for a solution that manages the overall innovation process from ideas to implementation, and provides key decision makers with the level of visibility and control they need.

PERFORMANCE – Measure, manage, improve

  • Innovation is a business process, like any other. As such it has to be managed. Create a structure that monitors the effectiveness of your innovation process. From monthly or weekly meetings through to team rewards, put in a process. Performance management is the oil that makes Innovation Management happen, so take time to set the right Innovation Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Now is the time for western businesses to embrace Innovation Management as a core business process. Link innovation to your business goals, follow the golden rules and overcome the barriers to innovation, and you stand a very good chance of not only surviving the recession but becoming stronger in the process.

Also by Andy Bruce – Innovating Your Way out of a Recession

Andy Bruce is widely acclaimed as an authority in ‘Innovation Management’, the author of “Fast Track to Success – Innovation“, and the Director of two specialist innovation companies: SofTools and Project Leaders International.

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