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Innovation&: Innovation is important to us, but...

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Wichtigkeit des Innovationsmanagement

Picture: Introducing sustainable innovation management in established companies is still very difficult today.

In an ever-changing world where progress and change seem to be the only constants, responsible innovation management has become a critical factor in the long-term success of organizations. Many companies face the challenge of embedding innovation in their culture and implementing it effectively in their organization. "We do innovation, but as R&D projects", "We want a culture of learning, but without risk", "We see that the old business model is phasing out, but the old products are still important", and "We know it's not going so fast, but can we at least break even at least in month/year x?" are common statements pointing to the challenges faced by organizations in implementing innovation management and the lack of culture and capacity.

We innovate, but keep it as usual

One of the most common traps that companies fall into is the tendency to view innovation as a one-off annual product event, rather than a continuous process. Many organisations claim to be innovative because they bring new products or services to market each year through their research and development (R&D) departments. But innovation should be more than just annual new product launches and research & development activities. It should be embedded in the DNA of the organisation and include innovation activities in products, processes and organisations.

The solution is to create a culture of innovation of intrapreneurs, in which employees are continually encouraged to bring in new ideas and to pursue innovative approaches in the spirit of an entrepreneur. But this requires a change in leadership, corporate culture, resource allocation and participation models in order to establish innovation as an integral part of day-to-day business. This continuous approach to innovation enables companies to better adapt continuously to changing market conditions and to remain competitive in the long term.

We want to learn, but please without risk

Another challenge is that organizations want to promote innovation, but at the same time fear risk. Innovation is accompanied by uncertainty, because new ideas and approaches do not always succeed or are anything but predictable at the outset. But avoiding risk can stifle innovation.

It is important to strike the right balance between the different risks. Organizations should therefore ensure that they have clear innovation objectives and strategies, while at the same time showing a willingness to invest smartly in experimentation and learn from it quickly. Risks should not be seen as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to explore and learn from them in a phased manner as resources are allocated. A risk-conscious but humble approach to innovation can help organisations break new ground and develop sustainable innovative solutions. Even if projects are not pursued further, because this is normal as long as there is a learning effect and only a decent investment is made.

We see what needs to be changed, but the old business is important

Another dilemma facing companies is the difficulty of questioning or adapting proven business models, products, and processes, even when they see that adjustments are urgently needed and that profits no longer justify continuing. Companies are often too comfortable (resistance to change) or too hesitant (existing hierarchies, power structures, processes) to give up the old and free up these resources for new things.

It is important to understand that innovation requires a change in mindset. The ability to rethink traditions and habits is critical to enabling innovation. Organizations should be open to change and ready to challenge their traditions when necessary to achieve their innovation goals. It is very important that employees know the DNA (what is our passion, what can we be the best at, and what are we paid for) of the company and understand and accept the need and benefits of change so that there is no resistance to innovation.

We know it's not going so fast, but will we reach break-even in the second year?

Innovation is a long-term process that does not always produce immediate results. Many organizations have high expectations about the timeframe for innovation projects to succeed. They expect to reach break-even in the first year after launch.

It is important to set realistic expectations and to muster the patience that innovation requires. Most innovation projects take time to develop and bear fruit. Companies should be prepared to invest in the long-term future, not to force quick success. Investing in innovation will only pay off after some time, once new ideas and concepts have matured and become established in the marketplace.

Conclusion - Innovation management is important, but without...

Innovation management is undoubtedly important for organizations seeking to survive in an increasingly competitive world. The above challenges, such as adherence to old patterns of thinking, fear of risk, and impatience with success, can impede innovation. But they are not insurmountable.

Successful innovation management requires companies to embed the value of innovation in their culture, accept risks, challenge traditions, and work patiently toward long-term success. Creating an innovation culture in which employees can continually contribute new ideas is crucial. Companies should be aware that innovation is a process that requires time and commitment to achieve lasting success. Only by overcoming these challenges can organizations see innovation not just as a buzzword, but as a living part of their identity and future success. Innovation is the key to adapting to the changing world and ensuring a successful future.

Yetvart Artinyan

P.S: Do you want to know more about how to make your organization fit for sustainable innovation?

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