First of all, what is innovation management?

Have you ever thought of a current successful business without innovation? I think your answer is no, right? And this answer already tells us something: managing innovation today is the foundation of the future. The first step for this to happen is to adopt innovation management in your business.

But what exactly is innovation? The definition of innovation is the creation of something imaginative based on something that already exists, be it a technology, process, product, service, or business. What about innovation management? The role of innovation management is to manage the system for implementing innovative ideas, from the participation of employees, partners, and customers in the generation of ideas to the final results.

In other words, the innovation management process is responsible for determining the number of steps and procedures that will be involved in the organization’s innovation system and which human, financial and technical resources will be used. Therefore, innovation management is extremely important for an organization, as it creates the methods and structures to generate, assess, and implement innovative ideas to improve its business.

Do you want to boost the innovation process results in your company? Then, follow the tips in this post!

Start gradually

The first essential tip of this post is: innovate regardless of the size, sector, and domain of your company/business. It’s important to keep in mind that the only way your organization can be prepared to compete in this increasingly competitive market is through profound structural changes that are critical to ensuring its longevity. However, it is clear that companies shouldn’t change overnight and become disruptive. Innovation can happen gradually, starting small, and as innovation management matures, the level of risk to be taken by the company and the investments in innovation projects may increase based on lessons learned, but don’t wait any longer, and at least start gradually.

Establish what innovation means to your organization

Before starting any activity related to innovation, companies must clearly and easily understand what is and what is not innovation for their business. Understanding this concept helps the organization to find methods and tools for strategic alignment and employee engagement.

Implement an innovation culture

You shouldn’t assume that to start innovation processes you must recruit new creative and innovative professionals. Your current employees can be innovative! And innovation management proves this, systematizing how to process, encourage and implement ideas generated by your employees, partners and customers and convert them into solutions.

However, innovation management will only be successful if the company’s organizational structure is open to new ideas and willing to invest in innovation projects. There must be a culture focused on innovation to enable this, encouraging employees, for example, through presentations and training on the subject, but above all, all management levels must be involved, encouraging and valuing innovation.

Stimulate the creativity of your employees and the implementation of a disruptive environment

Employees can feel insecure in a space where their opinions are not valued. In a culture where there are many rules, it is almost impossible to be different or do things differently, preventing innovation from materializing. Always remember that what drives innovation is creativity, and it is unlikely to emerge in a hostile environment, as creative ideas need a productive environment to flourish.

Another barrier that prevents your employees from expressing their ideas is fear of judgment. Overcome this barrier by creating a judgment-free work culture where new ideas, whether small or ambitious, are always welcome. Encouraging your employees to voice their opinions and using creativity to think outside the box is half the battle your company has to face to establish an innovation culture and maximize its talents.

Therefore, inspire, encourage, and engage your employees, customers, and partners to collaborate with innovative ideas. Make them comfortable and create a more welcoming environment, showing them that the organization values ​​their suggestions and will follow up on their ideas. You can be sure that one of the biggest drivers of creativity will be when employees see their ideas getting off the ground and being implemented.

Add innovation to your business strategy

It’s no use creating solutions that are not aligned with your company’s purposes. Aligning your goals with reality makes it easier to incorporate innovation practices into your strategic planning, when you can define the resources available for innovation projects, such as: financial investment, materials, technology, people, etc.

Moreover, if the company’s goals and challenges are not clear, how do you want employees to contribute to the organization? Of course, you shouldn’t disclose confidential information, but keeping employees up to date is critical to inspiring loyalty and increasing productivity. Hence, all employees can be aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, which means that everyone can work together towards the same goals.

If possible, conduct an innovation challenge in your organization. Start by disclosing your company’s strategic goals to all your employees and ask for ideas on how to achieve these goals, this will motivate them to generate ideas.

Show the whole company the importance of innovating

Make it clear to your employees that innovation doesn’t represent just new technologies and remind them that simple ideas are always welcome. It is not just the company’s senior management that needs to understand the importance of innovation. All employees need to be aware and aligned that innovation is key to ensure the company remains competitive in the market.

Constantly analyze market trends

Always follow the latest market trends and watch your competitors to see where your business is in relation to other companies.

Encourage collaboration among different teams and departments

In general, the routine of employees is to work with the same team every day, unfortunately, this routine can slow down the creativity and innovation process. Thus, encourage the participation of your employees among teams from different departments. By encouraging communication among employees who don’t normally connect, you’ll motivate them to step out of their comfort zone, and combining different goals, people, and skill sets can lead to more effective ideas.

Promote a recognition and rewards system for the best ideas

When people are recognized for their performance, they are motivated. From a cup of coffee to a free lunch, there are many small ways to show your employees that you appreciate what they do every day. You can even do a survey and ask your team which perks are most interesting to them.

Appreciate ideas from your employees, and if possible, include mechanisms to engage your team, such as:

  • Recognition: Don’t disregard the power of a “thank you”, recognize your employees both in private and in public.
  • Rewards: Launch campaigns to engage and stimulate the generation of ideas, and through these campaigns you can reward your employees with monetary rewards according to your bonus system or with smaller gestures, such as gift cards or vouchers.
  • Celebration: Take time throughout the year to reward the entire team for their participation in innovation processes. Parties, breakfasts, special lunches are ways for everyone to benefit from achievements.
  • Time off: Who wouldn’t want an extra day of vacation or a day off to use however they want, right? This is an incredibly effective reward that employees really appreciate.

Establish an effective innovation management process

Structure the innovation management process through well-defined steps for the generation and collection of ideas, as well as economic, technological, and technical feasibility analysis, approval, prioritization, and implementation of ideas that provide solutions to gaps for your company and for your customers.

Enable new ways of monetization

Innovation should be seen as an investment with the possibility of obtaining a financial return. Therefore, from the onset of each project, it is necessary to consider and plan how to obtain profit and income, since one of the key points of innovation management is the correct allocation of financial resources and full control of Return on Investment (ROI) for projects resulting from innovation initiatives.

However, be aware that the return on investment in innovation is not always so clear to measure, as it can come in other ways that are not measurable, such as improving the company’s image, better market positioning, expanding the customer base, attracting new customers and investors, which can translate into monetary gains over time and not necessarily at the launch of some innovation.

Create an idea assessment committee

Creating a committee to assess ideas is important for the organization because it prevents the company’s senior leadership from being overwhelmed and subject matter experts in a multidisciplinary team will conduct a better analysis of the project and make the best decisions.

Simplify the idea approval process

Most ideas can be implemented with little or no investment. To simplify this approval process, the organization can require leaders to autonomously approve the simplest ideas, leaving only the most complex ideas to the innovation committee.

Leadership committed to innovation

For a company to innovate, leaders need to encourage their teams. If there are leaders who are discouraged and don’t really listen to employee suggestions for improvement, especially those on the front line, no one will come up with new ideas.

Set goals and performance indicators

After organizing all the innovation management guidelines and structure, it’s time to set the goals and indicators according to the objectives pursued by your company. As we have seen, the purpose of innovation is to create better results for the organization and, to visualize this return, you must define metrics so that each step of the innovation process can be monitored. Therefore:

– First, clearly define your goals: what do you want to achieve with innovation? And establish the key innovation goals and targets for your organization.

– Determine the most suitable metrics based on these objectives.

– Create processes to record these indicators.

– Track and monitor the progress of innovation results and adjust metrics when necessary.

The indicators most commonly used to measure the process and progress of innovation results are:

  • Number of proposed ideas;
  • Number of ideas approved and selected for implementation;
  • Number of projects in progress;
  • Number of implemented innovations;
  • Number of unsuccessful projects;
  • Success rate;
  • Customer satisfaction;
  • Return on Investment (ROI).

And remember to always disclose the returns obtained with innovation initiatives to your employees, partners, and customers, thus encouraging them to come up with new ideas.

Use a Software

Every day, your employees, partners, and customers have great ideas waiting to be heard. An innovation platform makes your management process more transparent and manageable with greater efficiency and convenience. People feel safer and more engaged with a tool where they can track the progress of their ideas.

And this approach becomes even more efficient when supported by a tool capable of managing and improving your innovation process, such as SoftExpert ICM. You can use our platform to manage the entire innovation management process from start to finish and implement those ideas most likely to succeed for your organization.

If innovation management is something you want for your organization, contact our team, and request a free demo today!

Daiane Loeffler

Author

Daiane Loeffler

Daiane Loeffler is a Business Analyst at SoftExpert. She holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from UNISOCIESC, a specialization in Process Engineering from Sustentare Business School, and a specialization in Pharmaceutical Engineering from Instituto Racine. She is experienced in the Processes and Quality Systems areas and has expertise on Good Manufacturing Practices, Risk Management, Audits, Root Cause Analysis, CAPA, FMEA, PPAP, APQP and Six Sigma.

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