Where consultants contribute to innovation

I have been concerned for quiet some time about the ‘state’ of the consulting industry when it comes to innovation. There are simply far too many out there offering pieces of the innovation equation. If I was a client I’d be getting fairly hacked off- different people, different approaches, styles, methods of working and that nagging feeling it does not fit any bigger picture.

How do we resolve this?

Combining all these islands of knowledge into some form of combined force would be a healthy step but before we go there I was thinking about what does an innovation consultant contribute and where?

Here are my opening thoughts on this:

A consultant’s perspective for contributing to innovation activity

Constructing, implementing and sustaining the innovation process is made up of:

  • Supporting the capturing of ideas effectively both internally and externally of the client and then subjecting them to independent evaluations by the consultants own understanding and getting others involved (i.e crowdsourcing)
  • Defining, supporting and communicating the long-range business strategy and the links with the innovation process alongside the leadership of the business.
  • Understanding the innovation planning process and how to achieve input across the enterprise to align and effectively deliver. Providing the ‘glue’ to help make this work.
  • Identifying and encouraging individuals with entrepreneurial skills;
  • Indentify and empower individuals with the necessary skills to act as innovation champions, supporters or leaders in an emerging innovation process.
  • Characterizing and delivering the customer’s needs; incorporating market links into the innovation planning process, seeing these with independent eyes.
  • Establishing innovation metrics based on monitoring the broader benefits generated by the application of the innovation technology/ service/ product/ concepts developed and actively encouraging these to be adopted and, yes, actually measured.
  • Positioning the cost and contribution of innovation in perspective and necessary returns. Show the client his  ROII (return on the innovation investment).

There are clearly many more I expect one can consider but  my point is this, they all point to the need of taking a  more ‘holistic’ approach to innovation by consultants.

As mentioned above, this holistic approach seems to be missing from many of the service offerings made by innovation consultants today- that of a complete view on innovation to provide good advice that is timely and more complete than the fragmented messages offered by many today.

3 thoughts on “Where consultants contribute to innovation

  1. Another good post, Paul. You’ve captured a lot of important needs. I think that clients would also benefit from keener thinking dedicated to problem definition. An effective consultant can help clarify this thinking (if the client is open to this), which can lead the client to a different (and hopefully stronger) set of solutions than might otherwise be considered.

    Best regards,



  2. Pingback: The value of the visiting consulting fireman | Paul4innovating's Blog

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