Getting results in Innovation requires managing innovation from a holistic perspective. At The Valen Group, we utilize several critical tools, software and other innovation management solutions. However, what we have found is that leaders may rely too much on innovation management solutions that do not solve an organizational problem or need. Tools are just tools. To understand what are the right solutions requires assessing the organization by asking three questions regarding your innovation efforts:
1. Do we have the right people?
2. Do we have the right process?
3. Do we have the right environment?
We know that the majority of issues in innovation are not solved by handing the same people in the same environment, where innovation efforts have failed, merely the next new innovation management solution or tool. Great innovation comes from people understanding how to collaborate and work within corporate structures or around corporate structures to get results. Thus, we must include an assessment of the people and the environment in the process and tools provided to them.
When assessing what are the right management solutions or tools, consider them in context of what area of innovation are we trying to improve. In many cases, we find that while the issues in these areas can be inter-related by focusing on each of these areas separately, you can determine where the most impact for improvement can be made and then assess which tools are appropriate. In many cases, we have already sourced or developed a management solution, framework, tool or process that can be customized and used for improvement. Many tools readily available off the shelf in the areas of collaboration, project management, video capture/audio transcription and analysis are readily available to teams and there are new software and tools being developed every day.
By focusing efforts on framing the problem and gaining people’s understanding as to what problem we are solving, we also improve the chances of adoption and changing behavior, ultimately getting the results we desire. These three areas will help ensure we are solving the right problem:
Right People. Innovation is doing new things that create value for the organization. Team members who are open to new ideas and environments find insight and stimulus that helps them think in new ways and this is more likely to lead to a breakthrough innovation solution. Openness is one of several factors that we consider when assessing team members. We have innovation management solutions to assess each team member’s problem-solving thinking style that helps them learn their preferred methods and how to recognize the various methods needed as we go from concept to validation to execution, vastly improving team results.
Right Process. Innovation process is critical to allow for the evolution of a concept. A good process doesn’t allow leaders to skip steps. Many times, the first idea is just that; a starting point. Falling in love with a certain strategy, concept, business model or innovation solution creates bias and many times the process while well designed with check-ins or gates from senior management, only creates what we call left to right inertia (think stage gate.) Whatever innovation management process, software or project management solution is provided. People run processes not the other way around and ensuring that there is no left-to-right inertia in how those tools are used with the right amount of flexibility for iteration and questioning of results to limit the bias in speed to market or taking that first concept or product and building upon something that should have been killed.
Right Environment. The right environment is really about the right culture, decision-making authority, incentives and more. Too many times culture is about deferring to the top leader overseeing innovation efforts. A typical stage-gate or gated process is designed for top executives to check-in and decide if the concept is ready to move to the next step, such as moving to the prototyping stage prior to the development. However, this linear thinking approach we have covered in process shortcoming, but it is also that it props up a leader and many times that leader feels forced to decide, leaving teams to defer to leaders in likely gray area decisions where the correct answer isn’t to rush to market but test multiple models or solutions using methods like lean startup that promote iteration in creation of solutions and continual learning. Innovation management environments that foster this type of iteration and learning are found within the more successful companies. We include in our innovation assessment the environmental factors necessary for a healthy innovation team climate when determining what innovation management solutions or changes to implement.
What We Do
We provide services for:
- Benchmark Studies of your innovation practices versus best practices of other organizations
- Innovation Strategy approach methodology and processes
- Proven Innovation Assessment solutions and tools for team, process and innovation environmental factors
- Innovation Consulting services on organizational structure and management practices
- Organizational framework and tools to define the structure, decision-making and coordination of global innovation across an organization
About our Innovation Management Solutions to help your
organization improve its results.