Breeding Innovation Management

I think all great innovations are built on rejections” - Louise Berliawsky Nevelson.

Innovation is the mother of all businesses. Be it any sector, innovation has played a big role in shaping up the market. Business in the modern scenario is highly dependent on innovation and companies are turning towards the art and science of innovation management to help them keep the ball rolling. I call it an art because it breeds creativity and science because it needs the gene of the scientific mind to tap the potential that lies hidden within technology and research.
 
Right from the time, the Black Tuesday (Great Depression) took place in the early 1930’s; the importance of innovation was realized. The companies that survived the wild storm changed their traditional approach and adopted new methods to entice new customers and retain the old ones. Most of the companies started introducing R&D divisions in their companies; the major role of this department soon became not only to analyze their existing products and the merits & demerits related but also to inculcate new ideas for business.
 
Innovation is a series of processes that goes a particular way and has a flow of its own-
 
The first process of innovation starts with identifying the loopholes or market potential where the company can tap new customers or penetrate deeper in the market. An evident example right in front of our eyes is that of “Samsung Technologies “. The South Korean giant with its inquisitive R&D has shown the world real importance of the innovation management. Starting from simple cell phone technology to technology that senses customers’ eyes and other fabulous features has changed the sides of the tables of leadership in the market.
 
The second process of innovative management is allocation of resources strategically after studying the market carefully. Even though this might sound easy but it is quite difficult to implement in real life scenarios. As is seen with one of the success epitome in the Indian Market, the TATA group has been appreciated in every sector they set their feet in, whether it be the nascent IT sector – T.C.S or Steel Plants – TATA Steel. They have made their impact felt in every field they worked in and are known for their good decision taking teams.
 
But despite the reputation, recently their team failed to analyze and allocate right resources at the right place – Singur (West Bengal).  The land problem originated when TATA bought lands in West Bengal for the project of the well known low cost “NANO Project”.  The dream run of Tata group received a major blow due to the land policies and local habitants, thereby forcing the group to re-invest in a new set up in Gujarat. 
 
Coming down to the third process which is a major step in innovation management is logical formulation of problem and finding the right weighted solution for it. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” - an old saying holds true in this case because it is the process that has to be worked upon with minute details and most of the times the problem can be structured or unstructured. Depending on the situation a company has to define the solutions and take decision using 3W’s - What, When and Why?
 
To work more productively on their innovation management, companies these days divide their departments into one or more functional units better known as “Strategic Business Units “(S.B.U). In such units, hand-picked employees from different departments and divisions are chosen to form a team that will work with a specific target either related to a new product offering or for analyzing and keeping up on the old ones. There are different tools they normally use which can range from brain storming to product life cycle (P.L.C) to idea management to S.W.O.T Matrix etc.  
 
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The process of innovation is seldom simple and linear. It follows conscious and unconscious research or scanning process, intuition – which depends directly on the experience of the management team, and also the most important part that is logical verification and formulation of problem, which in itself is an ocean to deal with.
 
To give yet another example of a company, known for its holistic approach or rather I might call it a part of their value chain that nurtures the innovation to bring out the best is that of Google. Google has not only fostered new ideas from its employees but also tapped them into products and solutions which have helped the company to cash in and reach the acme of success with due credits to their open door policies of innovation management. For instance, Google AdSense was a part of Google’s Innovation Management program wherein the employees are allowed to develop a prototype of their idea and launch it across the Google network. The idea which gains maximum acceptance is converted into a project and the person who owns the idea manages it. Such a system allows people in the organization to showcase both their skills technically and breed creativity. Google allows a portion of the work hours of every employee to be dedicated to anything the person would like to work on. Such flexible policies and support from the top level management along with the broad approach boosts innovation management to a great extent.
 
Most companies are trying different solutions to measure the impact of innovation management. Either they outsource it to other firms that specializes in it or they do internal surveys on a regular basis to keep a tight check on the progress of the individual members and also the direction of the group. What needs to be done is to nurture and encourage innovation and you never know where the magic might come from!
 
[The article has been written by Priyo Ranjan & Additya Prakash. They are presently pursuing their MBA from XISS, Ranchi.]
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Breeding Innovation Management

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