Moving innovation into our Core- Part One

Innovation at the CoreInnovation has sat outside the core of organizations central systems for long enough. Arguably this lack of being a core central focus holds the deeper understanding of innovation back.

A core that could offer up the sustaining value and contribution innovation can make, into the growth and future well-being of organizations and having available the level of resources and commitments it needs. Today innovation seems to be falling short in delivering on its promise. Why?

A three part series on rethinking the management of the innovation system.

Part one, building the business case of needed change in how we manage innovation.

Those constant top level concerns need finally addressing

So we all hear the constant ‘disappointment’ surrounding innovation. There are consistent concerns of a “lack of resources”, the “top management is not giving innovation enough attention” or “innovation lacks a clear alignment to the strategic direction”. There are constant complaints around innovation and its lack of ‘impact’ on final delivery from different disappointed stakeholders. To give innovation a better ‘fighting’ chance we need to rethink how we manage it and we have to make it more central to our organizations thinking, decision making and management in those systems and processes that give it this chance.

Today innovation tends to operate in discreet, often stand-alone applications, where the systems for innovation stay often clustered in specialized groups working on their part. This is partly by design but also by the restrictions we place on ourselves in organizational design or solutions being offered.

We have no solid, robust innovation management system in place that is Enterprise-wide to handle all that ‘makes up’ innovation, we all really do fail to deliver transforming innovation, apart from some notable exceptions based upon emerging technology applications, platforms and integrated designs.

We lack the dedicated organizational process to manage innovation

Innovation lacks an Enterprise-wide Innovation Process as this has not been tackled through any ERP system as yet, apart from some selected parts. Is innovation management to tough too capture as a total system? Can innovation be ‘captured’ fully and turned into a robust process? I believe so, but it will take a different, more radical form to deliver enterprise wide innovation that is adaptive, agile and fluid in much of its management.

The flows we need to imagine will be far more constant in change, more dynamic in what occurs and its impact and not that ‘static’ or well- defined inputs that much of the current ERP system requires. It will take a significant re-thinking.

Whenever the activities around innovation are required to be reviewed, much of this ‘selective/collective intelligence’ has to be constantly reworked, to allow it to be disseminated to a broader audience for their response and new input. What we have today is relatively  inefficient and certainly not well-connected to make a system dynamic and agile in its evolution, to parallel the often talked about ‘messy’ innovation system of today.

Innovation has changed significantly over the past ten to twenty years

Innovation has moved from ‘just’ being within the domain of research and development, so as to then be passed over to marketing to implement, it has grown in its complexity with the movement to become far more open and complex in the necessary ‘touch points’ it needs to cover. A significant range of interested parties have become involved and needed to be drawn into the process of innovation and its development.

Open innovation has been changing the way we see and work with innovation. Ideas are constantly entering the organization as raw concepts or simply ‘weak signals,’ or intelligence, then translated into areas of investigation and then translated into potential opportunities to investigate and explore.

Idea Management is part of an integration puzzle.

Idea Management started as simply a ‘stand-alone’ system but has evolved over the years to continually improve and become the front end intelligent tool to increase engagement and quality of innovation activities. Within this it has continued to push out to map the strategic innovation areas and set the hunting grounds for innovation.

The best solutions strives to encourage and create a balanced road-map of ideas, look at ways to improve cost savings, encourage dialogues and exchanges. The push to speed up the discoverv, development and implementation of ideas is driving much of the idea management software solutions.These systems are improving the ability to offer different levels of governance and reporting, to keep moving towards effective and efficient decision making.

The ability to push the software and the technologies so as to provide the appropriate platform for engaging the creative energies within organizations, is a key battle ground at present. Continuous social features are being ‘released’ to improve the quality of ideas by encouraging idea development and bottom-up support with community graduation, narrowing the focus on the most promising and well-developed ideas.

There has been a visible improvement in the workflow set of concepts that aims to simplify the idea development path, and makes progress more transparent.There is this encouraging management engagement through community platforms. All good and  very positive.

The core of any idea management system is to drive campaigns, collect and develop ideas and provide the ability and structures to evaluate these and move them through into a pipeline and portfolio management system to be managed accordingly. This has evolved significantly in recent years.

The enterprise portfolio systems is certainly attempting to manage growing complexity

The providers of portfolio and pipeline management systems have been exploiting the choices of the portfolio management needed, be this managing investments, projects, resources, applications, products, and services. They are designing them to be an end-to-end solution that constantly are planning the resources needed to achieve a better potential for integrating, deciding and executing around choices, driven by a focus on ‘finding and calculating the ‘hard numbers for the return on investments.

These platforms are providing the opportunity to have enterprise-wide visibility into the allocation and use of resources to deliver against this evolving demand. Whereas capturing all ideas is at the heart of Idea Management, it is managing resources within the Portfolio.

The present push is towards a more holistic view across investments, the assets, resources and services required that work from capture, through the planning cycle and through to execution and looking to achieve a more flexible integration. Analytics and visualization, along with greater updating of performance management and time-to-realization are being provided.

Yet I feel we still lack all the integrating that the parts being offered can provide, for achieving greater line-of-sight and alignment into organizations goals. Also in managing the competencies, capabilities and capacities that need to combine and deliver on the potential discoveries made or identified.

Any next ‘big-step’ by existing software vendors will require significant new rounds of investment and innovative thinking, is this a step too far for many and does this hold back the evolution we really need?

Social media is being ‘plugged in’ for greater innovation

Both idea management and portfolio software solutions have been working hard to integrate into leading business applications, including IBM Connections, Yammer, SharePoint, and Jive and become a host in the cloud or on-premise. The needs to increasingly connect into all the social media tools to attempt the capture of ideas and manage resources and portfolio decisions is requiring far more ‘real-time’ engagement that is needed to bring into any final decisions on ideas or portfolio management decisions.

Stand alone or adjoining systems are not providing the full answer we  are needing today.

These ‘stand-alone’ systems aim are working hard at trying to create sustainable engagement, encouraging ever-increasingly scale in handling increasingly larger volumes of dialogues, information and data, as well as span global enterprise deployments.

Many software solution providers are working towards the focusing on the capturing ideas that are Customer need-driven, utilize far more the cloud-based potential, determine the Ideas and possible solutions to then work through the needed resource, identify gaps and then deliver a Work Management set of solutions, to move ideas through to eventual execution but we still have numerous ‘disconnects’ across the innovation process.

Yet we are still lacking a complete mindset for managing innovation

Historically this split between idea management software and the enterprise portfolio systems might have prevoiusly made sense but I think it is possibly holding the integration of innovation back for today and the future. We need to make a greater connection into what is available, what is possible and what a broad innovation management understanding requires to finally deliver ‘the’ innovation solution and technology is advancing the possibilities here.

I worry over this ‘fixation’ on this front end of idea management as we are in a ‘race’ to provide and improve in a market place of 50 plus providers of idea management software. Equally the fragmenting within the messages and value within the portfolio and pipeline providers is possibly a cause for ‘holding back’ by a number of possible clients. Solutions that don’t seem to align into the organization stay outside and for-ever stand alone, not yielding the potential value for all concerned.

Those that can ‘see beyond’ just managing in this one or selected spaces of innovation around idea management or portfolio planning, would radically alter the innovation management game.

Providers may make claims they are achieving this complete innovation management system but I am not yet convinced on what I see. We need a more holistic and integrated approach.

We need to go to the next step – providers of a holistic Enterprise-wide Innovation Process 

We still are falling short on managing the total innovation process. The present software solutions, even if they capture radical ideas seem to ‘boil these down’ and ‘dilute these’ as they have to meet the criteria set within the portfolio management system and stage -gating decision process so as to actually work in delivering clear often predetermined outcomes . The end result so often it seems is re-affirming the incremental cycle of repeating, predictable, known decisions, based on hard numbers alone and known facts, so as to be able to achieve some ‘given’ set of outcomes, both sold in the value of the software solution and believed as wanted by the management.

So much of our innovations we should be dealing with deals are so often in the unknown, unpredictable, in their uniqueness and today our systems simply can’t cope with these. We still struggle in dealing with a more radical innovation need, where unpredictable consequences can occur both in defining the right inputs, forecasting the process or outcome predictability. Our present software systems are falling short to manage this fluidness and need for constant agility and adapting.

This is where we need to find a better solution, to find a way, a system and its process, that keeps moving innovation towards the broader strategic core, having consistent ‘line of top management sight.’ As well as achieving consistent commitment to manage innovation far more dynamically, and in agile and fluid ways,

Even in this uncertainty we all face today, the full scope of innovation activity has much uncertainty and risk built into it that our present software solutions are finding difficult to manage or capture. It conflicts as they continue to build linear or parallel systems and not systems that adapt and respond as needed, ones that constantly ‘loop’ back, re-feeding the understanding to drive greater, broader, ever increasing innovation performance.

Part two follows in the next post

****My Additional Note: Recently I provided some opening thoughts into a debate on what is missing for our future, here is a link into a part of the deck provided to prompt that part of the discussion.**

5 thoughts on “Moving innovation into our Core- Part One

  1. Hello Paul,
    We have tackled this with the Innovation Maturity Model we created together with PDMA. It contains an innovation Management Standard, accompanying guidelines and reference documents and a toolset which can in fact do what you describe here.
    Just let me know if you require more information. Best regards,


    • Hi Gert,

      It is a continued pity you never get a decent ‘feel’ for your model when you visit your web site, no sense of flavour, structure etc with such a clear message you are delivering:

      “The Innovation Maturity Model manages the inception and creation of new processes, products and services from start to finish and even extends beyond launch and deployment into the products’ and services’ life cycle management.”

      Does this not restrict scale and broader adopton?

      So I can’t say if what you are suggesting does truely tackle this


      • Hi Paul,
        I see, you are lacking essential information then. Perhaps we buried it too deep in additional documents on the site and need to bring it better to the surface. Will work on that, it is a pity, as we tried to limit the use of too much text. Yet it exactly offers you what I said it would.
        Let me know if you need more in-depth information.
        Regards, Gert


  2. Pingback: Moving innovation into our Core - Part One | @l...

  3. Pingback: Delivering the innovation core: building capability, capacity and competency. | Paul4innovating's Innovation Views

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