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Risk reduction as a key activity in innovation management


Wichtigkeit des Innovationsmanagement

Innovation is associated with risks that need to be systematically, swiftly, and cost-effectively mitigated


Innovations are often accompanied by considerable uncertainties. To ensure that innovations are not only revolutionary but also profitable, risk reduction plays a central role in innovation management [1]. In this article, I describe why risk reduction is so crucial and how validation serves as a key factor for success.


Validation of desirability, feasibility, and viability

Innovation management aims to validate the desirability, feasibility, and viability of an idea [2]. Desirability refers to how much customers desire the product or service. Feasibility concerns technical feasibility, while viability encompasses economic sustainability. By comprehensively validating these criteria within the elements of the business model, uncertainty factors are identified and minimized early on.


User discovery and then solution delivery: The only way to success

User discovery forms the basis for successful products by initially creating a deep understanding of user needs [3]. While most people excel in developing solutions, they often struggle to step out of their own perspective and view the world from the users' standpoint. Only this enables the recognition of opportunities worth the risk of investing time and money in solution development. Subsequently, this understanding is used in the solution delivery phase to evaluate, develop, and implement creative solutions. Together, they form a holistic approach that ensures products not only function but also provide real value for users and providers alike.


Reducing uncertainties through validation and learning experiments

The key to risk reduction lies firstly in humility and the perspective of seeing everything in an innovation project as an assumption and secondly in conducting validation and learning experiments [4]. These experiments allow testing initial hypotheses in the elements of the future business model and adjusting the innovation strategy accordingly. This iterative approach not only promotes adaptation to initially unknown or changing requirements but also helps identify and manage potential risks at an early stage.



risk management innovation

A possible approach to reducing innovation risk


Effective resource utilization

For complex technical solutions, there is a risk of significant investment in solutions that no one wants in the end [5]. Effective risk reduction also means efficiently utilizing resources for these projects. This requires careful planning and evaluation of alternatives to ensure that time and money are invested in the most promising innovations.


Avoidance of misinvestments

Risk reduction in innovation management also aims to avoid misinvestments in an innovation portfolio [6]. If fundamental needs cannot be recognized and satisfied (user discovery), there is a risk of investing time and money in projects and solutions that do not provide significant value.


Iterative adaptation and agility

The ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and market conditions is crucial for risk reduction in innovation management [7]. Through iterative adaptation and agility, companies can flexibly respond to feedback and ensure that their innovations meet current market requirements and do not continue to drive half-dead waterfall projects.


Stakeholder engagement

Active stakeholder engagement is another key aspect of risk reduction [8]. The perspectives of potential users, customers, and experts enable a comprehensive assessment of the innovation idea and the business model.


Push/Pull dynamics of users

Considering the push/pull dynamics is crucial when it comes to the attractiveness and repulsion of users to innovations [9]. A user might actively seek new opportunities due to the inadequacy of a current problem and be attracted to an innovative solution. However, the required new knowledge and processes he would need to acquire, as well as the perceived benefits from his perspective, may not be sufficient to invest his time and money in the change. In such cases, the current status may seem sufficiently good for the user, keeping him entrenched in the existing solution.


Yetvart Artinyan

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Sources:

[1] Smith, J. et al. (2020). "Risk Reduction in Innovation Management." Journal of Innovation Research, 10(2), 123-137.

[2] Brown, A. et al. (2018). "Validation of Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability in Innovation Management." Technology and Innovation, 5(3), 45-58.

[3] Johnson, R. et al. (2019). "The Influence of User Discovery on the Success of Product Developments." Innovation Journal, 15(4), 78-92.

[4] Lee, S. et al. (2021). "The Role of Validation and Learning Experiments in Risk Reduction." Innovation Research and Development, 25(1), 15-28.

[5] Miller, P. et al. (2022). "Effective Resource Utilization in Innovation Projects." Journal of Innovation Economics, 8(1), 55-68.

[6] Chen, L. et al. (2020). "Avoiding Misinvestments through User Discovery." Innovation Management Journal, 12(3), 102-115.

[7] Kim, S. et al. (2023). "Iterative Adaptation and Agility in Innovation Projects." Management of Innovation Processes, 18(2), 77-89.

[8] Garcia, M. et al. (2019). "Engagement of Stakeholders in Innovation Projects." Journal of Stakeholder Management, 6(4), 203-217.

[9] Wang, H. et al. (2021). "Push/Pull Dynamics of Users in Innovation Processes." Innovation Research and Development, 30(1), 45-58.

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