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Best Practices for Innovation Management

In the first post of this series, we explained the catalyst for the book Innovation Management Framework: Enabling and Fostering Innovation in Your Company written by Marco Cigaina. We also looked at the overall Innovation Management Framework (IMF). /wp-content/uploads/2014/09/275498_l_srgb_s_gl_532284.jpg Now, let’s turn our attention to best practices for taking advantage of the IMF.

Do It By the Book

Enabling and fostering innovation is no small task – especially with the myriad theories floating around about how to best go about it. That’s why Innovation Management Framework by Cigaina is an excellent place to start.

In the book, Cigaina explains why it’s critical to align and integrate three dimensions associated with an innovation culture – enterprise and strategy, processes and methodologies, and people and networks. The book also introduces a fourth dimension to connect the other three: orchestration and governance. Through these four dimensions, organizations can achieve a holistic view of innovation management, which is critical to success. In addition to providing a firm foundation for innovation, the book includes real-world examples of innovation practices both inside and outside SAP. Moreover, it offers concrete guidelines on how to put knowledge into action through an execution model.

Embed Innovation Principles and Practices

Once an organization buys into the concept of innovation management, it’s a good idea for management to help all its employees understand innovation principles and practices – after all, you need their buy-in, too. By doing so, a company can rapidly and proactively expand and cultivate the innovation potential of its workforce.

One key way to do this is by exposing employees to projects that are out of their comfort zones. Another is for management to lead by example, showing that innovation is important to the business. Every six months, SAP holds an internal event that allows its employees to focus on creative work and sharing ideas. To kick off the day, top SAP executives give inspirational speeches about the importance of creative work. Hand in hand with this, organizations must empower employees to collaborate and share ideas, such as by tapping into gamification and crowdsourcing. For instance, companies can integrate idea exchange into online communities and award points for ideas submitted and rated.

Hire a Chief Innovation Officer

While successful innovation initiatives require the participation of various executives and senior managers, when it comes to orchestration and governance, it’s important for one person to be fully accountable for all innovation issues. More and more companies are addressing this requirement by appointing a chief innovation officer.

This person will need to communicate about a variety of topics to everyone across the company, and must understand the various business functions and how they contribute to innovation. With that in mind, it’s ideal that the chief innovation officer has a broad range of corporate experience, covering every department from marketing and product marketing to research and development and engineering and operations. At the same time, the CIO should have a background in consulting work, possess strong leadership skills, and understand how to manage employees and other corporate resources. As someone who will need to sell ideas and manage risk, this person should be well respected and understand a variety of business practices. Though the chief innovation officer can’t go it alone, this person can free up senior management to focus on other strategic areas.

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for establishing innovation practices in your organization, we’d love to hear your experiences as you spearhead an innovation initiative.

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