Innovation Management Best Practices: 5 Action Items for Leaders

To innovate or not to innovate, that is the question. For many businesses, the answer is a resounding "yes." Some say innovation management is a new discipline, but they're really saying it has been made significant recently. It's become a big topic, with many competing voices trying to hog all the attention.

On top of that, businesses often find it hard to figure out what to do and how to do it when it comes to a cultural transformation. In fact, of executives say lack of knowledge is the biggest hindrance to their innovative abilities. Fortunately, innovation management best practices take the guesswork out of this process. You leverage the "wisdom of the crowds" to identify, cultivate, refine, and implement the most valuable ideas with continuous practice, improvement, and resilient commitment.

Why Does Innovation Management Matter?

The answer to this question is pretty obvious, but to be safe, we'll still say it. Every business needs to evolve and innovate to grow and keep up with the world’s rapidly changing economy.

There will always be competition, no matter the industry. If you fail to react to these market threats, your business is asking for trouble. The point is, as uncomfortable as change can be, you won't grow without it. Staying in your "safe zone" is redundant because it puts your business at greater risk for failure.

"Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity—not a threat"

- Steve Jobs

The good news is that innovation management brings about plenty of opportunities. Taking action can give rise to a creative culture where ongoing breakthrough ideas are generated, and more complex innovation objectives are broken down into manageable goals that teams can focus on, harnessing their strongest skills and aspirations.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some key innovation management best practices that you can act on today.


5 Innovation Management Best Practices for Leaders

Do you recall ever mastering a skill without some plan or practice? Probably not. Let's be honest. If you said "yes," you're only lying to yourself, and that won't get you very far. On that note, here are the top five best practices to give your business that extra push.

  1. Support an innovative company culture: Most people assume innovation management focuses on listening to the customer. Of course, customers are extremely valuable (unless you have a Karen for a customer), and they are on this list, but growth starts from within your company.

You need the right people to succeed. This isn't necessarily something you can do all on your own—nor should you have to. Innovation is like a group sport. Leaders successfully managing innovation have created a culture of innovation where people are excited to improve everything and are willing and able to see ideas through.

All ideas must be equally welcome, and none of them disregarded without merit. Build trust and openness internally, and help your team see failures as learning opportunities. A happy team achieves the dream, and you, my friend, are the one that lays the foundation.

  1. Keep the balance between innovation and customers: Business leaders know how important customers are for success. It's a pillar in the rules of business. But simply listening to your customers isn't enough. After all, if you solely relied on their opinions to support your company's visions, well, you'd be screwed.

Even though your customers are a top priority, you should balance their opinions and your goals. We all know the mantra, "the customer is always right," but that's not true (we mean that in the nicest way possible). You know the market better than they do, and it's wiser to test ideas instead of listening to every request of your customer. Listen to their wants, needs, and general feedback, but keep control and test your ideas considering their opinions, not based on them. 

  1. Take advantage of disruptive innovation/technology: Innovation management software is a forward-thinking way to brainstorm and collaborate to unleash the full potential of your employees and create the next big thing. Innovation thrives on anarchy (the good kind), and the ultimate goal of optimal platforms is to help develop new products and services and brand your company as innovative for customers, investors and employees.

Some additional features of innovation management software include:

o   Guidance with brainstorming

o   Prototyping

o   Product lifecycle management

o   Idea management

o   Design thinking

o   TRIZ

o   Phase–gate model

o   Project management

o   Product line planning

o   Portfolio management

Imagine how awesome it would be to have all this magic at your fingertips. Innovation management can be challenging, and as we mentioned, you can't go it alone. Disruptive innovation and technology help!

  1. The lean startup model: As much as we’d all like to believe every great idea will make great businesses, they don’t. The lean startup model helps assess customer demand and determine the product-market fit fast. This technique emphasizes the speed and urgency in idea search and execution without repeatedly building a new business model. It can help you to assess customer demand and determine the product-market fit fast.

    The lean startup model is inspired by lean manufacturing, aiming to reduce waste, continuous improvement, and understanding the customer. It's an iterative approach that tries to produce a minimum viable product (MVP) as fast as possible. This product then allows gathering maximum data about the customer with the least effort, which leads to an improved product (or service). This process is called the build-measure-learn loop.

    The intent of the Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop is to launch a new idea or concept to the market quickly to gain experience and gather feedback for further improvement.

    This loop can be repeated as many times as needed so you can keep testing and improving the previous version of your product. Using it continuously will build your efficiency in deciding which ideas work and which don't. Not only is this practice time-saving, but it can spare you millions in misguided investments.
  1. Allocate resources properly: Perhaps we sound like a broken record, but we’re going to say it one more time. You can’t sustain innovation management alone. You need the proper resources to support your strategy continuously.

Allocate your resources based on your goals, unique capabilities, and chosen portfolio management principles such as target ROI and inclination to tolerate risk. This will ensure project tasks are executed on time and determine which resources are most effectively and economically available.

Evaluate your assets (human and financial) and use them wherever they have the most potential. This must be done regularly. You'll constantly be assessing KPIs and metrics to determine where you need to focus the most resources on—core, adjacent, or transformative initiatives.

Hint: This is another reason why innovation management software is beneficial.

Succeeding in innovation management doesn't always stem from the number-one revolutionary idea. Many leaders only seek out fast, easy wins—and rarely end up growing, just surviving. Understand that successful innovation is a continuous practice that should be at the core of who you are and what you do. Anything worth doing takes commitment.


Enhance Innovation Management With rready

In the words of the late, great Albert Einstein, “if at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” Innovation management best practices are your way of creating and sustaining a lasting culture to encourage your employees to speak up, share crazy ideas, and grow. Think outside of the box!

The rready team rounds off its exploratory approach to innovation management with multiple software services, which can scale your processes quickly and efficiently. Great things in business are never done by one person. If you're rready to team up and get growing, contact us today.

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