To some people it is not all that clear how innovation services, innovation management systems, innovation projects and innovations relate to one another. I keep running into this issue, particularly when firms are just keen on finding quick innovations, rather than working systematically to continuously create value from innovation. Let me first summarize the logic in one comprehensive sentence:
“Innovation services are put together in a systematic manner in an innovation management system to create a foundation for innovation projects to run and to continually find and develop new innovations.”
This simple graph visualizes the logical relationship between the various areas that generate innovations. The first is a requirement for the second, which creates a foundation for the third, and when all are put together they will generate the fourth. Breaking the chain and just working with one or two of the parts may still result in innovations as output, but it will be less probable and leave much to chance. From my point of view, “chance” – though highly important in many ways – has very little to do with professionalism.
Let me now give you the details of how this logic works.
1. Innovation services
Innovation services – or rather innovation management services – are those services that support an organization in enhancing its innovation performance in finding or developing new innovations. They may come in a wide range of formats, such as innovation workshops, technology scanning services, ideation platforms, problem analysis methods, prototyping, innovation marketplaces, etc. Whether you provide them yourself by amping up your internal capacity or acquire them externally, they each have a dedicated function in enriching the way you deliver innovation in your company.
2. Innovation management system
But innovation services can and should not be set up randomly. When you coordinate your innovation services in a structured and systematic way, you are in fact constructing the foundation of your innovation management system and your innovation process. The innovation management system depicts the alignment of your innovation services, and that they are non-redundant, create the expected value, and have synergetic effects when combined. The innovation management system also overlooks the greater picture and adds structure to related areas such as innovation culture, leadership, funding, and talent.
3. Innovation projects
An innovation project is a temporal effort to follow a series of steps from problem/need to having defined a fully-fledged workable concept with a correlating value model. Innovation projects are managed through the innovation process, which is part of the innovation management system, so the innovation management system is the infrastructure consisting of innovation services that support your innovation projects. Without a deliberate structure for innovation projects, they will be managed haphazardly – sometimes even in conflict with the organization’s core structures – in the outskirts of the business instead of as an integral activity. But innovation projects that utilize its systematically dedicated services have all the right preconditions for success.
So by adding innovation services and structuring them professionally in an innovation management system you create a platform for innovation projects in which you generate new innovations. Innovations don’t come out of nothing, so this is how you ensure full alignment between innovation efforts so that you can increase your innovativeness and ensure an ongoing innovation capacity.
Pick one and it may work – pick all and it will work.