The innovation management process

Innovation is always a sequential activity.

As you can see, innovation is a continuous process. The starting-point may be an idea, an intellectual output, or an invention. Naturally, invention derives from intellectual outputs; furthermore, it is stimulated by the occurrence of one or more problems to solve. The completion of an innovation process is supported by numerous activities, and depends on the fulfilment of specific conditions.

The organization needs to design a detailed process plan based on its vision, strategy and major goals that covers all the important steps starting from the identification of the problem/or opportunity till the successful realization of the plan.

The innovation process depends on factors like the innovation and organization type and the organization structure. Therefore, there is not just one innovation process model, but more. In case of the „innovation-horn” model the process description builds on a few general features: definition and analysis of the problem, idea management, innovation project development, intellectual property issues relating to the final product, market launch.

Idea management: implies the generation, acceptance, assessment, and selection of new ideas. In order to ensure the continuous idea flow it is important to rely on a systematic idea management process, which covers the followings areas:

  • idea generation (specific or general)
  • frequency of idea collection, assessment and selection
  • the sources of ideas might be internal (e.g. creativity) or external (strategic information procurement, cooperation, etc.)
  • intellectual property rights issues relating to new ideas and their creators need to be settled prior to sharing the ideas within the organization
  • the protection of ideas (property) must be transparent and secured in fields where the intellectual capital potentially represents high value, problem anticipation is necessary.
  • idea assessment, selection methods and criteria (e.g. user needs, details of the marketing strategy, harmonization with the organization’s innovation strategy, novelty level of the implemented change, legal sustainability and relating issues, economic and technical feasibility, results, etc.).

Timing might not always be appropriate for the implementation of a new idea/innovation project, therefore it is advised to work out an efficient system for the identification, archiving, structuring, and easy retrace of the ideas and long-term development experiences. The realization of a selected idea generally takes place throughout an in-house innovation project, external partnership, consortium/alliance, fusion, or buy out.

The start-point of the innovation process is the idea according to the standard. Idea is a general term, as such it embraces various idea types and idea sources:

  • Ideas might emerge to solve problems
  • Ideas might be the result of a research, or R&D activity
  • Ideas can derive from top-down or bottom-up initiatives (in case of the top-down approach it is the company management that calls for solution ideas relating to a problem; while in the latter case the initial idea derives from the employee)
  • The ideas can derive from employees or from outsiders (external people), partner organizations (open innovation).

Various methods can be chosen to apply during the elaboration of an innovation project. E.g. the „retention point”, the ”innovative thinking” process, or a combination of them. The main advantage of the first method is the accurate project planning implemented with thorough order, clear goals and indicators to assess during the whole process.

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