Bring innovation into the company!
How does it work?
High agility and readiness to adapt the offer for our customers is practically a matter of course; at least in the market entries of many companies.
Where do innovations come from?
Ideas for new products and processes abound. They come from direct customer feedback, from new technological possibilities and, of course, from internal innovation centers that focus solely on this topic.
This is often accompanied by strategic planning by the company, which sets itself ambitious goals for the next few years!
Parallel to this, the operational business continues. There lies the basis of profit generation, which ultimately also gives the opportunity to look for new innovations! These employees are usually fully occupied with the running business in order to serve the existing customers and to support the existing products. In the management as well as with these employees, the search for innovations thus often appears on the sidelines.
Different mentalities often emerge between employees in the innovation center and employees in production. Creative and risk-ready employees in the strategic, innovative area; reliable and solid employees in the operational part; exactly the characteristics that are important in each case! But also the difficulty how the innovation team can work together with the operational team! How do I convince the core staff to adopt new ideas/new products into the running operation.
A classic example in finance is the topic of blockchain. For years, the breakthrough of the technology has been talked about by some exponents! Unfortunately, the technology has not progressed beyond the “sandbox” approach at many companies.
This is exactly where management has the crucial role to play! Are you prepared to allocate part of your resources to innovation management in the long term and to implement it sustainably, or do you see it only as marketing measures without direct reference to service delivery?
If so, then you need a clear plan for innovation creation, communication, and inclusion of operational staff in the implementation of innovation in ongoing operations!
How important are innovative ideas for your field
It is only when you look back that you often see how much change companies and the corresponding environment have undergone, be it globalization, changes in supply chains, completely new products or even completely new competitors!
For existing companies, innovation is much more complex than for startups! The existing products could be cannibalized and the question of right timing is extremely important. There is a lot to lose and not only to gain.
Gemeinsam an die Sonne
Who takes care of it
Product management is often responsible for further development, and technological developments are also central. In many places, special innovation centers are then also operated, which are usually deliberately very isolated directly at the management!
The “Lab” can adjust itself outside of the daily business completely to the changes to be expected! This means to make fundamental considerations, to go new ways, to choose new approaches, to test, to try, to discard etc.! The employees sought for this are well trained, creative and willing to take risks.
Which ideas get a chance
As a rule, there is no lack of ideas! It then becomes much more difficult to identify a customer benefit that can be economically converted into saleable products! The creation of business cases only helps to a limited extent.
Decisive role of the management
In the end, the decisive question can only be answered by the management itself! How much time and resources am I willing to make available for innovations? If the innovation center runs as a marketing campaign, then it requires little attention and can be booked under marketing costs.
However, if it is to lead to real change, I must be prepared to commit my own and other resources to it in the long term. This long-term planning requires precise planning and must also be prepared to accept setbacks.
How high does the pressure of suffering have to be to initiate change? This also includes innovations. Unfortunately, this is usually only the case when it is actually too late and the implementation has to take place under extreme time pressure.
Do not wait until there is a fire! Act in time and in a planned manner. The chances of implementation and the successful positioning will prove you right.
The right approach
Strategic and sustainable change requires clear long-term planning, binding resources and sustained engagement with the ideas generated in the innovation center.
Motivated employees in the innovation center
The involvement of operational key resources (despite day-to-day business)
External review /support
Goals may be aggressive, but achievable. Most importantly, they must not be second priority when operational difficulties first arise. The designated resources need the full support of senior management to work with full confidence on the ambitious plans.
Involvement of existing employees
However, this cannot replace the involvement of experienced employees from day-to-day operations. For psychological reasons alone, the active involvement of affected employees is a must. In this way, they do not become affected parties, but actors. In the process, they can make a significant contribution to incorporating the experience gained from existing products/services into the innovations.
A classic example is a lot of activity around the topic of blockchain and the possible implementation in a mission-critical application. Many companies built technical pilots in their “sandboxes” very successfully.
However, the implementation into real business failed in most cases. The expectation of immediate cost savings, the cannibalization of existing products as well as a not necessarily obvious customer benefit prevented a successful launch.
Thus, most of the much-cited blockchain activities did not get beyond the marketing level.
Communication above all
As in all fields, communication represents a very important area. Big changes cannot happen behind closed doors. Proactive communication from all stakeholders is the only way to make the change process a positive experience for everyone.
In innovation management, too, the focus is on comprehensible planning. Without measurable parameters, I cannot evaluate success. On the basis of the parameters for a decision to implement the product/project, the further procedure must be planned. In an innovative process, the measurement parameters may well change. However, this must be comprehensible and documented in a “change process”.
Disruptive elements, for example the Internet bubble
A story that repeats itself again and again! New trends and technical possibilities are euphorically presented in the media. Many players jump on the bandwagon and market their activities under the new buzzwords!
With the so-called “Internet bubble” around the year 2000 this was particularly pronounced! The share prices of these companies went through the roof … and fell into the bottomless pit.
There, too, the technological possibilities could not be implemented overnight! But those who kept their eye on the ball and took a sustained approach to implementation are very successful today. One of the best examples is Amazon, which at that time appeared on the market as a pure bookseller and is now a global player in many areas.
What is happening with today’s trends: Artificial Intelligence or better Machine Learning, Automation, Speech Recognition, Digital Platforms! Exciting to observe the development further.
Fire and water
Innovations have to be introduced into an existing organization in a planned change process over a longer horizon. The approach needs innovative as well as delivery-focused employees. The interaction has to be planned sustainably by the management and provided with appropriate resources. Persistent implementation is the means to success there as well. Bringing in our expertise can also contribute to successful implementation here