Friday, December 21, 2007

2008: The Year Of Idea Management?

Over at Business Week, Bruce Nausbaum is making his predictions for innovation in 2008. Bruce writes:
The demand for innovation is soaring in the business community . . . nearly all CEOs and top managers who have learned the language of innovation are now seeking the means to make it happen. It took the Quality Movement a generation to change business culture. The Innovation Movement is still in its infancy, but it's growing fast. You can see that in the vast changes taking place within the field. Companies are demanding new tools and methods to execute that change within their existing organizations
Idea Management Systems are one of the central new tools and methods for consistently achieving significant innovation outcomes, and for managing innovation with the same degree of rigour and discipline as other core business functions. Idea Management is a mature and evolving toolset that's ready for more consistent and widespread adoption, and companies are likely to increasingly focus on Idea Management as a key point of differentiation and competitive advantage through consistent and repeatable innovation across products, services, processes and business models.

It will be interesting to see what 2008 brings for Idea Management.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Practitioners Want To Know About Innovation

Innovation Tools recently conducted a survey of innovation practitioners to determine the most important innovation issues to practitioners. Over 250 people responded, representing a broad cross-section of industries and geography.

The responses were grouped by Innovation Tools into 9 topics:
  1. Defining innovation and making it saleable and practical to senior management
  2. Sourcing and managing ideas to come up with the best innovation opportunities
  3. Connecting innovation to business strategy - and getting funding and executive support for medium and long term innovation initiatives
  4. Identifying the best processes and tools to satisfy the needs of all parties to the innovation initiative
  5. Building and sustaining an innovation and entrepreneurship culture
  6. Measuring innovation outcomes across all stages of the process - and motivating the organization to deliver across all stages of the innovation process
  7. Finding or building the people and capabilities to be successful in innovation
  8. Organizing to drive innovation in our company and across the value chain - with particular reference to decision rights and accountabilities
  9. Identifying the characteristics of innovation leaders at different levels of the organization - and recognizing and rewarding them
I think the list is terrific - comprehensively covering some of the key issues in innovation.

I would however be tempted to make a slight tweak to the topics list - the rewards and incentives to motivate employees (which appear in topics 6 and 9 and relate strongly to 5) could, I suggest, be usefully be brought out into a separate 'incentives and rewards' topic - bringing the list to a 'top 10' topic areas for innovation.

Idea Management Systems, while playing a very explicit role in relation to topics 2, 4, 6 and 8, also relates very strongly to topics 1 and 3. Idea Management Systems provide the rigour and repeatable results in innovation that are saleable to senior management. Idea Management Systems also align innovation activity with business strategy through implementing a Stage-Gate system that is necessarily aligned with business strategy as ideas are considered, screened or tested at various early stages in the innovation process and business strategy and objectives necessarily define the evaluation or screening criteria.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unique World Implements Custom Idea Management Solution

Australian BRW Magazine's December 6-12 2007 edition has a brief article on Sydney company Unique World and its delivery on its innovation goals through the implementation of a custom Idea Management System.

Unique World is a small (A$12M turnover) company developing innovative solutions based on Microsoft technologies. Unique World appointed a head of innovation, who coordinates the process by which staff themselves propose, evaluate, and promote new ideas to management.

The system received 20 ideas in the first week and receives an average of 2 to 3 ideas being posted on the intranet weekly. A committee made up of (non-executive) staff uses a template marking system to score each idea on set criteria, for example whether it aligns with the organization's objectives and values. The committee decides which ideas to do further preliminary work on before putting a business case for the idea to the management group.

The article discusses two products arising from the Idea Management System: Record Point, a "low cost and user friendly alternative to records management systems" and an internal project impact matrix that will be used to estimate customer benefits of a particular solution prior to sale.

Unique World's CEO sees the system as combining the benefits of a staged investment appraisal process with harnessing the innovation of Unique World's employees.

The article argues that:
"No company is too small to systematise innovation. Nor is it too nebulous a thing to come to grips with."

Booze Allen Hamilton Global Innovation 1000 Survey - 2007 Report Released

Booze Allen Hamilton have released their report for the third Global 1000 Innovation Survey outcomes.

The report confirmed that "as in years past, we found no statistically significant connection between the amount of money a company spent on innovation and its financial performance." High-leverage innovators - "the companies that, compared to other companies in 2006, got a significantly bigger performance bang for their R&D buck" - achieved "better sustained financial performance than their industry peers while spending less on R&D."

The report found that:
When listing the reasons for their success, [high leverage innovators] all mention two key factors. The first is strategic alignment: They work hard to align their innovation strategies closely to overall corporate strategy. The second is customer focus: They all have processes in place to pay close attention to their customers in every phase of the innovation value chain, from idea generation to product development to marketing.
While the report did not focus specifically on company's approaches to Idea Management, Idea Management concepts permeated the report, particularly in relation to "customer focus." High-leverage innovators:
" . . . all have processes in place to pay close attention to their customers in every phase of the innovation value chain, from idea generation to product development to marketing."
Customer focus is a key element in idea generation, particular for organizations following a "need seeking" innovation strategy.