What do all great companies have in common? They innovate, of course! But not only do they come up with game-changing, sometimes world-changing ideas, they also take innovation management very seriously.
The truth is, from idea to implementation, new opportunities are nothing without effective management. And that’s how brands like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix, stay at the very top of their industries.
Now that’s not to say innovation management exists only at the top. Every business can have breath-taking ‘aha moments’. But are they really capable of moving these ideas along the tightrope that is reality?
Can they forecast costs, juggle risks and setbacks, meet resource demands, and so forth? Innovation is no easy road, but with the right tools and knowledge, anything is possible!
So, how can you join this prestigious league? In our complete guide, we are diving head-first into the who, what, how, and why of innovation management.
The handbook for innovation managers, project leaders, and senior teams everywhere. Are you ready to revolutionize your approach to innovation management in 2024?
What is Innovation Management?
Innovation management is the business process of creating and introducing new ideas and ways of working for transformative results. It involves a combination of strategy, change management, and culture.
In fact, innovation management can be used to support all types of positive organizational change, from product and service improvements to new processes and systems. If it drives value and hasn’t been tried before, it’s innovative!
On its own, innovation is simply “a new idea or method”, as defined by Cambridge Dictionary. But that fails to describe the true workings of innovation.
There’s no mention of how we reach a new idea, how we manage activities and tasks, nor the milestones, bottlenecks, or risks.
And it’s not until we turn it into a phrase like ‘Innovation management’ that we gain some clarity. Take a look at Gartner’s definition… “A business discipline that aims to drive a repeatable, sustainable innovation process or culture within an organization”.
Here, we get a better understanding of what innovation truly involves. It’s purposes, importance, and how it supports teams in their pursuit of success. So, let’s summarize the question “What is innovation management?”
- A business discipline that involves change management, strategy, and culture.
- A new idea, method, or solution that supports a desired outcome or direction.
- A sustainable process to be transformative as a brand, product, or service.
These three statements are a great way to describe innovation management and should give you the foundation for diving into this subject in a lot more depth. Now let’s explore the importance of innovation management.
The Importance of Innovation Management
Innovation management is important because it helps organizations reach their goals as a business, expand their potential, and outshine their competition. Why? Well, firstly, without daring to innovate, many businesses become stuck in a rut, refusing to change, pivot, or try anything new.
Secondly, as businesses test the waters of new ideas, they often discover a whole avenue or direction to explore. All while their competitors refuse to consider any opportunity. And that leads us to our third importance of innovation management.
Daring to be great! To outshine the competition. As your organization invests in new ideas and does so in a manageable way, you have more chances to grow and thrive.
That’s compared to the sitting ducks we call competitors, waiting to slip into the abyss. See, the modern world works on overdrive. Consumers want innovative solutions, and brands are operating around the clock to make that happen.
Companies must take a holistic approach to their offering and place their bets on innovation to help bring out new opportunities and advancements in their industry. And that exactly describes the importance of innovation management.
How to Manage Innovation Projects
Successfully managing innovation projects requires several steps and considerations. From aligning your efforts to wider goals to reducing risks, it’s really a combination of things that will help your team effectively manage innovation projects.
Take a look at our list below, for example, here you can see managing innovation projects involves much more than a new idea and the resources to act on them. It’s everything from reshuffling your company culture to delegating responsibility and utilizing tools and software.
- Build a solid innovation management framework.
- Align your innovation projects to wider business goals.
- Reduce the bottlenecks, risks, and setbacks of new ideas.
- Stay accountable and delegate responsibility.
- Start with a lean approach, but aim big.
- Encourage and develop a culture of innovation.
- Make sure you instil open communication in your team.
- Leverage digital tools and innovation management software.
When your team takes on some of these considerations, you’re destined to manage innovation projects like never before. These are the laws of some of the best innovation teams out there today!
4 Types of Innovation
The 4 types of innovation are architectural innovation, incremental innovation, radical innovation, and disruptive innovation. Each of these four types of innovation helps organizations identify and solve problems with the correct strategy.
Whilst they all aim to help teams innovate more effectively, they differ slightly in their approach and where your team should focus their efforts. Whether it’s rethinking the structure of a product or system or simply making smaller improvements over time, these 4 types of innovation support a wide variety of innovation goals.
Want to skim through the four types of innovation? Check out our table below for a quick-fire overview! When you’re ready, move on to the next section.
|4 Types of Innovation
|Best for which teams?
|To reimagine the core components of a business, and its products or systems to drive better efficiency and performance.
|R&D teams, Product Development, Design and Engineering.
|To make gradual and consistent improvements to a product, service, or process for increased user satisfaction, quality, or efficiency.
|Product Development, Quality Assurance, Design and Engineering.
|To make breakthrough improvements and introduce new products, services, or systems for revolutionary change in new and unconventional ways.
|Entrepreneurial teams, R&D, Skunkworks.
|To disrupt the market with ground-breaking products, services, and systems that reshape the industry, open up new markets, and set a new bar for the competition.
|Startups, Cross-disciplinary, Customer-centric teams
As you can see, these 4 types of innovation all have differing advantages, and fit the needs of various teams. But now let’s jump into each of these in much more detail, starting with architectural innovation.
Architectural Innovation refers to a complete overhaul of an organization or the foundations of its products and services. It’s about working with what already exists but doing so in a transformative way.
Instead of reinventing products and services, teams will redesign existing components and improve things like functionality. Instead of introducing new strategies and techniques, businesses will reshape their current workflows and processes.
This approach not only differs from incremental innovation but also radical or disruptive innovation. It’s one of the 4 types of innovation that focuses on the foundations and structure of a business and its offering: a makeover of sorts.
Our Verdict on Architectural Innovation:
Architectural innovation is a key strategy for cross-functional teams and can be applied to various industries such as technology, financial services, healthcare organizations, and more.
It’s one of the 4 types of innovation that can be leveraged by research and development teams, product development teams, and design and engineering; the individuals within an organization who are responsible for reshaping a business, product, or service. And that’s what makes it so adaptable for many different businesses and teams.
Incremental innovation is making steady and continuous improvements to a business, product, or service to better performance, efficiency, adaptability, and more. When we utilize incremental innovation, we are looking to learn, implement, refine, and repeat over a length of time.
Incremental innovation is one of the 4 types of innovation that focuses on taking a proactive approach to learning and optimizing existing workflows, products, services, and more. Because when these things continuously evolve, growth follows!
On the scale of risk, incremental innovation is a safe bet for most organizations. By making smaller, gradual improvements, you can avoid putting all your eggs (or budget) in one basket and hoping for the best.
Our Verdict on Incremental Innovation:
So, what do we think of incremental innovation? As far as these 4 types of innovation go, this is an appropriate style for things like software updates, new product feature releases, and all other smaller refinements.
It’s an approach suitable for smaller teams with less cash to throw at innovation projects, allowing them to keep the drive for transformation affordable! It’s also a great place to start for teams who are new to innovation management.
Radical innovation involves creating new ideas and concepts to support your business goals. Instead of simply building on new products or services, teams will be radically inventive and depart thinking and problem-solving from the status quo.
And that’s what makes radical innovation such an alluring opportunity for businesses. It’s a chance to ‘dare to be great’, and be highly innovative, in comparison to incremental innovation.
When organizations choose to radically innovate, they often look to expand into new markets and claim an advantage over their competitors. And as innovation management software, we love to see businesses take innovation seriously!
Our Verdict on Radical Innovation
Radical innovation is a great opportunity for teams who not only want to innovate, but take their business, product, or service in a totally new direction. It’s the introduction of new concepts and technologies that aim to rival competitors in unconventional ways.
The stakes are high, and the reward for radical innovation can be game-changing as a business. Whilst it isn’t for the faint-hearted, with the right strategy, budget and drive, a lot can be achieved. The question is, who might try radical innovation? Teams involved in research and development, product development, or startups might utilize this as a chosen strategy among these 4 types of innovation.
Disruptive innovation aims to introduce new ideas, products, or services that completely alter the market landscape. Ways to not only be transformative but solve problems and develop entirely new markets that may not have existed before.
With the boom of technology in recent times, this can support the disruptive innovation efforts of some teams, as they look to revolutionize markets, products, and services that have been used by millions of people for decades.
A prime example of disruptive innovation is Apple’s iPod, and how this small device created an entirely new market that rendered CDs obsolete. Disruptive is daring, exciting, and daunting all at the same time.
It’s reserved for businesses that are prepared to be laughed at by their industries, as they look to solve problems and innovate outside of the box.
Our Verdict on Disruptive Innovation
To summarize, disruptive innovation is about being definitive with innovation. It’s how some of the biggest brands have reshaped industries, created ground-breaking products and services and in some cases, changed the way many of us lead our lives.
As part of the 4 types of innovation, disruptive innovation is better suited to both startups and global industry leaders. Those who have the resources to innovate daringly, and those who are introducing an entirely new business, product, or service to the world.
Trends in Innovation Management for 2024
Now let’s dive into the upcoming trends in innovation management for 2024. Here, we’re looking into digitalization, AI-driven innovation management, and how you can foster a culture of innovation.
By the time you’ve read through this list, you’ll have a better stance on the trends in innovation management and how they can be adapted to your innovation management strategy as we move forward.
Digital Innovation Management
Starting with our first of the trends in innovation management list; digitalization. What is it and why should you care? As we navigate 2024, we’re likely to see a lot of businesses take their innovation efforts online. Using the latest SaaS platforms and cloud-based collaborative tools to build out their innovation strategies. And rightly so!
As new ideas, products, and services drive the gap between the ‘good’ and the ‘great’ in business, teams will need to take innovation management much more seriously. To some extent, it’s “do or die”.
This means digitalizing the entire process of collating ideas, reviewing opportunities, and transitioning these into well-rounded business cases for senior buy-in. There are tools out there that help organizations collect ideas, and there is innovation management software that takes a more end-to-end approach.
Whatever your company chooses, innovation must be digitalized for a seamless, smooth-running experience across your entire team, department, and business!
Fostering a Culture of Innovation
Next up in our trends in innovation management is fostering the right culture, a culture of innovation. Believe it or not, many organizations simply do not encourage innovation in the workplace.
That’s not to say they don’t want to innovate, but they make very little effort to inspire and drive an innovative way of thinking and working among their employees. And that’s where they fell short in 2023!
See, businesses that are paving the way for excellent innovation management are realizing that they must build their culture around this very characteristic. Innovation management can no longer be driven by a select few in 2024.
In most instances, innovation isn’t the outcome of individual brilliance, but of collaborative success. The efforts of several team members from a range of backgrounds, and with varying skills.
Below we’ve listed several ways leading teams foster a culture of innovation in the workplace to build a better tomorrow in 2024:
- Encourage cross-functional collaboration throughout your company
- Lead by example and create an innovation-driven senior team
- Gamify innovation management with recognition and reward
- Back your team’s innovation efforts with time and resources
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it demonstrates some of the ways you can foster a culture of innovation in your team, starting today!
AI-driven Innovation Management
Let’s move on to our third point in this list of trends in innovation management for 2024, artificial intelligence. As AI tools continue to evolve, organizations will adopt platforms and applications that help them automate, propel, and optimize innovation management.
And unlike most of the trends that made this list, artificial intelligence is already in full swing. A trend that many innovation management tools are introducing, with various algorithms and upgraded features.
From idea generation to predictive analytics, the innovation management world is truly full of opportunity, and many organizations are now looking for an AI companion as part of their innovation management setup.
All-in-all, artificial intelligence aims to transform how teams innovate, with unique tools and technologies. As it stands, 2024 is set to be an exciting year for innovation management, and AI will no doubt open the barrier to entry for teams of all shapes and sizes to seize innovation in new and inventive ways.
Innovation Management FAQs
Let’s now turn our attention to the common innovation management questions. Her we’ll look at how to measure innovation, how to build an innovation team and how to encourage innovation in the workplace.
Three well-placed questions a lot of senior management teams may have as they look to execute their innovation management efforts in 2024. Let’s jump right in!
How to Measure Innovation
Measuring innovation is no easy feat. It’s a complex task with many varying factors. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring innovation, meaning many organizations will adopt the strategy they see fit.
That said, when asking the question “How to measure innovation?” There are several points to think about and consider. One of these is customer satisfaction and feedback.
This can tell you all you need to know about your innovation management efforts. Think about it, if you have innovated a new product or service, and said product has received 1000s of happy reviews, it’s safe to say that’s a metric worth measuring.
Another way to measure innovation is the number of ideas your team has contributed. Have you seen a dramatic increase in employee engagement you’re your innovation management efforts?
Next up, what is the market share or competitive advantage your organization has in your industry? Since when did you take the lead, or grow your revenue? After an innovative spout? If so, this could be another metric to measure innovation.
Ultimately, there are many factors, metrics, and ways to measure innovation in your organization. Idea by idea, you can paint a picture of how well your innovation management strategy is working, and what needs to be done to improve it.
How to Build an Innovation Team
Like any great team, building an innovation team requires a range of skills, backgrounds, and dynamics. But this is only the building block to revolutionizing innovation management with a team.
If you’re wondering how to build an innovation team, it’s key to start with objectives. What do you really want to achieve as a team? Set these goals and get everyone working for the same reasons!
It’s also important to think about how, where, when, and why certain individuals from your innovation team will collaborate; and the communication tools you will employ to ensure collaboration is effective.
The next step of devising an innovation team is learning and development. There’s only so far your innovation team can go without the know-how and competency to build great ideas together. Educate them and give them the tools to thrive!
What’s more, to keep the momentum high, you should consider how you recognize, reward, and gamify innovation management amongst your team. Recognition and reward are crucial factors in motivating and rallying any team, for any cause. Whether it’s finishing a project or coming up with your next big idea.
Creating an innovation team doesn’t need to be gruelling. With enough effort, you can reap the benefits of intrapreneurship and discover new ideas and opportunities left, right and centre.
How to encourage innovation in the workplace
Finally, let’s talk about how to encourage innovation in the workplace. Much like building a team of innovation experts, encouraging innovation is a combination of efforts that will bring healthy innovation to the forefront of your colleague’s minds.
The key word is ‘healthy. After all, the worst thing you can do for your innovation management strategy is demand new ideas and new ways of thinking. It has to happen naturally and on your team’s terms. They have to want to innovate, and this can be achieved! Believe it or not.
Firstly, it’s important to build a team of innovators, a senior team that can steer the ship and lead by example. They are your core team members who will do the encouraging, and help everyone set in motion innovation in the workplace.
Much like every other frequently asked question we’ve covered with innovation management, it’s important to set goals and objectives that are clear. When everyone knows the end goal, it makes motivating your team much easier.
Next up, it’s important to create a safe environment where people are comfortable thinking outside of the box, taking risks, and aiming big. Without this very factor, your request for new ideas and ways of thinking will be hit with tumbleweed and hesitation!
Finally, consider cross-functional collaboration from one department to the next. You never know what ideas your team could devise if they just all worked a little closer with one another.
Our Final Thoughts on Innovation Management in 2024
There you have it. Our guide to innovation management in 2024. Hopefully, this guide serves you and your team as you move through the year and build an innovation management approach.
Like many great strategies, you should look to reiterate your innovation management efforts each year, with the rise of new trends, tools, and more. That’s exactly how some of the biggest brands in the modern century stay ahead of the game!
We’ve covered everything from the key innovation management methods to upcoming trends in innovation management for 2024.
This ultimate guide has left nothing out, whether you’re just getting started in innovation management or are an expert innovator looking to sharpen your craft this year.
As we see the introduction of new technologies, the rapid adoption of generative AI, and the landscape of the connected workforce, it makes for an interesting year. 2024, will be a big time for organizations to innovate, and their innovation management efforts must be carried out effectively.
Meet your innovation management software
Although edison365 is an end-to-end business transformation tool, we have always excelled in helping global major brands with our innovation management software. From healthcare innovation to construction innovation, we’re here to help!
Visit our innovation management software page and learn all about what our platform offers and how we can help you get the most out of your workforce to think differently, aim big, and win through innovation!