The innovation process in terms of phases in time is moving from looking for signals to implementation. It is worth developing a number of possibilities to increasing certainty and commitment of resources.
The routine activities will enable management of activities in phases. For example:
- Catching up a wide range of signals and moulding them to suit the organization.
- Selecting projects which have a good fit into the organization.
- Monitoring and managing projects through the various stages of development.
- Deciding where and when to stop projects, and where and when to speed up.
- Preparing the ground for effective launch by taking into confidence all the stake holders concerned.
- Reviewing and learning from completed projects.
For many enterprises these activities are often carried out on a random or casual basis, and not in a methodical way. The process is by no means one sided and there is considerable overlap. So dealing with it is unlikely to involve standard operating procedures or procedural rules, but this doesn’t mean that the process is unmanageable. It is possible to create a structured framework within which the process can operate. It can be built around routines and these can be learned and refined over time. Research evidence confirms the view that a degree of discipline is an important component of success.
There is a need to adapt in such a way to deal with different problematic and non-problematic situations. In particular organizations face the challenge that much innovative activity is increasingly distributed across organizational boundaries.
It also poses difficulties in terms of managing at arm’s length where the authority may not apply and where transparency, trust, information sharing and conflict resolution become important elements in the innovation process.
There are challenges which have to be overcome when the organization has to deal with innovative activities outside the normal working conditions. Where external conditions lead to discontinuities in the innovation environment for example, the coming out of new technology or of completely new markets the old rules of the game no longer apply. Under the conditions organizations need to deploy alternative working conditions to help deal with high levels of uncertain situations and to manage a process of new rules of the game.
Organizations manage within the innovation process. Competitive management is about organizing and setting the work within the organization but it is also about improving. In short it is about gearing up capability to implement any positive changes.
The process of positive changes begins with technology, markets, competitor behaviour, shifts in the regulatory environment and new social trends etc. and they could come from inside or far outside the organization.
For large organizations significant resources can be devoted to this activity, but for many others it will raise the issue of developing networks and connections.
There are a number of approaches which can be used to explore and extend this and they are,
Defining the boundaries of the marketplace
Essentially this involves asking the deceptively simple question about the business the organization is in. This kind of question prompts discussion of current and potential markets and assists in looking for new opportunities. Sometimes innovation can take the form of repositioning offering the same basic product or service but addressed in a new way to different markets. For example, xyz.com is seen as an on-line retailer but is trying to broaden its business by positioning itself also as a software developer and supplier.
Closely linked to the above is understanding where potential markets may arise as a result of various kinds of change. For example, the mobile phone business has moved from a specialist, high price business tool into the general marketplace as a result of both technological and cultural change. Similarly low cholesterol and other healthy foods are increasingly becoming relevant to a large segment of the population as a result of changing social attitudes and education. Building up such understanding of the changing marketplace requires various forms of communication and interaction, from monitoring through to customer groups and surveys.
The market place changes fast for FMCG and for consumer durables the change is slightly slower than FMCG. For other goods the change may give sufficient time for a dynamic organization.