Innovation management, which is also called management innovation, is defined as the design and implementation of practices, processes and systems that promote various internal changes. Management innovation can be the opposite of traditional management principles, or it can simply be the departure from customary organizational expectations. Bear in mind that management innovation focuses on management processes, but operational innovation focuses on business processes like logistics, procurement and customer support services.
The Art of Managing Innovation
The goal of innovation-based management is to change how managers act, think and communicate. This means that typical managerial duties, such as setting goals, laying out plans, motivating employees, coordinating activities and allocating resources receive a much needed breath of fresh air. Innovation-based management also applies to how employees acquire and apply knowledge, build and nurture relationships and identify and develop talent. In big corporations, one of the best ways to quickly and forcefully change how managers work is to reinvent and redefine basic managerial processes.
Some of the most important management processes that need to change include strategic planning, capital budgeting, project management, internal communications, and knowledge management and employee hiring, promotion and assessment. Innovation-based management sets new standards and establishes new rituals that promote efficiency and cooperation. It sets clear guidelines and expectations that helps employees and management to voice, discuss and solve their problems.
Innovation-based management challenges traditional practices, certain aspects of management wisdom and pseudo-scientific beliefs that are highly dubious. The road to innovative management practices begins with identifying, uncovering and highlighting current management orthodoxy. This usually appears in the form of a management meeting with business consultants who ask, debate and define current critical management issues. This could be problems related to the slow adoption of technology, such as employees refusing to learn new software, or archaic human resource habits, such as unfair hiring practices that ignore minorities.
If the issue relates to strategic planning and change, business consultants will help management understand facts like change must start from the top, it doesn’t take a crisis to provoke change and it takes strong and assertive leadership to change large companies. Management must understand that employees and even managers are naturally opposed to change, but without any improvements, safety, quality, revenue and employee engagement will suffer. Many innovation projects rely on helpful techniques from popular improvement concepts such as kanban, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and total quality management (TQM).
The advent of e-commerce offers many challenges for product manufacturers who have traditionally dominated their markets. Management may become frustrated by chronically low levels of brand loyalty and consumer engagement. Traditional company management processes will most likely only focus on how to drive operational efficiency or increase revenue. In order to survive, these companies must first transform their managers into rule breakers who deliver excellent customer support and service.
In order to reinvent the company’s management processes, innovation and change management must become a central topic in leadership development programs. Every year, a set share of capital spending should be designated for projects related to innovation. Before product development plans can be approved, they must contain a fair amount of new-to-market research and innovation. Every business enterprise should have their own innovation manager who is tasked with overseeing projects and training employees.
Anyone who wants to become a management innovator should have a degree in management, human resources, organizational development or business administration. Forbes magazine offers advice on how to successfully handle innovation management here.