Just like children, new organizations can be highly innovative. But
as the organization grows larger and older, this innovation can slowly
leading practitioners in the management of
Some organizations completely lose their ability to innovate.
This may be caused by various factors: external pressure, a growing complacency
and an internal erosion of enthusiasm.
Many organizations remain highly innovative, but only within a narrow
(often technical) domain. Outside their technical specialization,
for example in their relationships with their customers or in their business
processes, they become unimaginative and resistant to change.
Our focus is to identify and remove the innovation blockages within
organizations new and old, large and small, and to encourage individuals
and teams to reach new heights of productive and useful creativity.
We aim for high levels of personal contribution and fulfilment, and high
levels of collaboration and organizational effectiveness.
Innovation for innovation's sake? Sometimes the business or social
benefits of a particular innovation may not be clear from the outset.
However, the ultimate touchstone of any individual innovation or innovation
programme is a clear contribution to business or social goals: survival,
growth, corporate health and wealth.
We use a basic change management roadmap for managing the innovation
programme, and this roadmap comprises five streams across four phases.
The specifics of a given process, method, technique or technology are placed
as appropriate into this template.
We manage change in five loosely coordinated streams of change activity.
Although you can sometimes make good progress in one stream, you won't
go very far without catching up on the other streams.
Managing the Innovation Programme
Setting goals and targets.
Creating and satisfying management expectations.
Balancing effort against results.
Coordinating effort in the other streams.
Delivering a satisfactory return on investment from the whole
Establishing Innovation Capability
Establishing specific roles, responsibilities and rewards in
relation to innovation.
Enabling individuals and teams to work innovatively, through
training, mentoring and coaching.
Empowering individuals and teams to innovate autonomously and
Encouraging individuals and teams to participate actively in
the innovation programme, through appropriate reward and recognition schemes.
Building an Innovation Infrastructure
Acquiring resources and tools to support individuals and teams.
Building support systems. This typically includes knowledge
management or information dissemination.
Establishing support networks and metrics.
Doing Innovative Work
Exploring ideas. Creating or importing new ideas, cross-fertilizing
Developing ideas. Converting an idea into a realistic proposition.
Implementing ideas. Converting a realistic proposition
into a soundly implemented innovation.
Connecting Innovation with the Enterprise
Tying innovation to business goals.
Embedding innovation in structures, processes, policies and corporate
Coordinating innovative work across the enterprise.
In a perfect world, everything would be in place before you started.
But this approach leads to endless delay. If you want to get anywhere,
you have to get started with the minimum essentials, and improve later.
Of course this means that you may not get all the benefits from Day 1,
but at least you have a chance to get some benefits, and start evolving
Phase 0: Preliminary Assessment
The purpose of the preliminary assessment is to confirm the planning
priorities. As consultants, we can suggest typical priorities and indicate
which areas may need to be addressed first, but these priorities need to
be confirmed for your organization.
In some cases, it may be decided to bundle other general management
process improvements in with the innovation programme itself. You may be
experiencing some difficulty in an area that is only indirectly addressed
by innovation as such, but the innovation programme provides an opportunity
to fix other problems as well. This may be tactically appropriate in a
given situation, but it complicates the plan, increases the overall risk,
and will make it more difficult later to evaluate the costs and benefits
of the innovation programme..
Phase 1: Getting Started
In phase 1, the emphasis is to get something started. This usually
includes one or more pilot exercises to demonstrate how innovation works
in your organization. Within most organizations, there are some people
who are keen to develop new ideas and skills, and are willing to accept
the uncertainties and challenges of new tools and methods. They are known
as 'early adopters'. It is a good idea to involve them in the pilot exercises.
An initial set of procedures will be formulated for use by the pilot
teams. These will be in draft form, with limited automated support. During
Phase 1, the benefits of innovation will be small and localized. Phase
1 typically takes about 3-6 months.
Phase 2: Getting Ahead
In phase 2, the emphasis is on extending the innovation process from
the early adopters to other parts of the organization. The successes of
the pilot need to be captured and disseminated, so that other staff and
managers feel confident that they can achieve similar (or even better)
In phase 2, we should be able to write down some procedures and guidelines,
based on the experience of the pilot exercises. At this stage, it may be
appropriate to consider automation of these procedures, using desktop tools.
During Phase 2, the benefits of the innovation programme should increase,
and the organization should start to receive a positive return on its investment.
However, some of the longer-term or strategic benefits may take longer
to realise. Phase 2 typically takes 1-2 years. In a large organization,
it can take considerably longer.
Phase 3: Getting on Top
By phase 3, a higher level of innovation should be visible across the
organization, and fully embedded in working practices. The full benefits
of the innovation programme to the organization can now be assessed.
Programme Planning and Management
It's difficult to plan something in detail if you've never experienced
it. So it's often useful to start by making some practical progress in
some tactical area.
But before you get too far into the programme, it's important to consider
the management issues properly, and produce (negotiate) a detailed plan.
In any case, it's always a good idea to set the expectations yourself,
if you get the chance, rather than wait for someone else to impose their
expectations on you.
We can help by running a planning workshop with your key managers and technical
experts. We usually bring along a "strawman" plan, to get the discussion
going, but we expect you to tear our plan to pieces and replace it with
What are the expectations of the programme? How soon are results expected?
How will the programme be evaluated? What will count as success?
What are the specific opportunities and threats in your organization?
The plan usually covers the immediate phase in considerable detail,
and broad-brush outlines of the subsequent phases. We are happy to participate
in regular progress reviews and replanning sessions.
We typically facilitate a number of workshops, in which individuals
and teams are given the opportunity to stretch their innovation capabilities.
In large organizations, these workshops are taken over by inhouse personnel,
after an initial introductory period.
Innovation Support Systems
We have considerable experience in designing, building and
implementing knowledge management and information dissemination systems
to support innovation across large and diverse populations of technical
Training, Coaching & Mentoring
We usually provide a short training workshop, to introduce people to
the concepts, techniques and tools of identifying, using and managing ideas.
We can also provide coaching and mentoring, both to line managers and
technical leaders, and to those responsible for particular aspects of the
Our innovation management practice is headed by Michael Mills and Richard
Veryard, both formerly Senior Members of Technical Staff at Texas Instruments.
They are credited with many significant innovations, as well as championing
and supporting innovation among other technical staff, and have wide international
Prior to working at Texas Instruments, Michael was a senior executive
at Xerox and James Martin Associates. He has consulted at board level
to an impressive list of global corporations. He is now the managing
partner of Kamm Associates, specializing in the provision of large-scale
project management and change management.
Richard is an experienced consultant and author of several books, and
is now managing director of Veryard Projects Ltd. He is also currently
the secretary to an international working group on the diffusion, transfer
and implementation of Information Technology (IFIP WG 8.6).