Innovation refers to the introduction of a new good or a new quality of a good, method of production, market, source of supply, and/or organization in an industry. It also refers to improving on an existing concept or idea using a step-wise process to create a commercially viable product.

Innovation is stereotypically viewed to be the wheelhouse of small and start-up companies since they tend to be very dynamic, but as we shall see, it is also a vital and viable aspect in big companies.

The most fulfilling thing about an innovation is being able to actualize an idea into a successful concept. To do this, you need to go through a long and complex process. For you to succeed you must understand the process well and must have the support needed; this is what differentiates a successful innovation process from an unsuccessful innovation process.

As a businessman, how does innovation relate to you? Do all businesses need to be innovative? Is there a process that is followed to come up with an innovation?

The Innovation Process: Definition, Models, Tips

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It is very understandable for you to ask yourself these questions. To help you understand the innovation process, I will inform you why you need innovation, explain the risks associated with it, give a detailed procedure of the process, look at some models of innovation and then give you tips on how to carry out a successful innovation process.

INNOVATION – THE BASICS

Innovation is a process of improving a product service from its current state. Already from the definition, you can tell that innovation is not limited to the size of business or the business venture you are dealing with.

Hence, innovation is open for everyone in business. Innovation adds value to the services or goods that you provide and so you should seek to be innovative in your business. Let me show you some more advantages of embracing innovation in your business.

What is the Importance of Innovation?

  • Solving problems: Most ideas are actually derived from attempts to solve existing problems. As such, when you encourage innovation, you are opening doors for solutions to problems both within and outside your company. If your business provides services, you might realize that your customer do not have an avenue to share their opinions, complaints, and compliments. The only avenue available could be the physical office. So, to solve the problem, you could decide to operate a virtual office where customers’ needs can be attended to within a short time. The customers will be happy and as a result, your sales will go higher.
  • Adapting to change: This is especially evident in the technological world where there are rapid changes defining the business. Change is inevitable and innovation is the method to not only keep your business afloat, but also ensure that it remains relevant and profitable. With the rise in mobile phones, traditional telephone had to find ways to remain relevant. Same case with your business, when you develop an innovation culture, you remain relevant at all times.
  • Maximizing on globalization: With markets all over the world becoming more interlinked, greater opportunities are emerging in these new markets and with that, new needs and challenges. For instance, China and India are estimated to be the leading markets, and Africa is predicted to be the next “hot spot”. Therefore, if your company hopes to tap into this market share, innovation is a must to enable you to capitalize on the opportunities opening up.
  • Facing up the competition: The corporate world is always very competitive, and with many new companies coming up, the top position in the industry is no longer a reserve of a few. To retain or establish your company’s cutting edge, you can compete strategically by having a dynamic business that is able to make strategic and innovative moves and thus cut above the rest.
  • Evolving workplace dynamics: The demographics in the work place are constantly changing. With the new generation that has entered the market place; new trends are also coming up. Innovation is therefore critical to ensure the smooth running of the company.
  • Customers’ changing tastes and preferences: The current customer has a great variety of products and services available to him and is well informed of his choices than before. The company must therefore keep itself abreast with these evolving tastes and also forge new ways of satisfying the customer.

Risks of the Innovation Process and how to overcome them

The innovation process is lauded for its many benefits that have defined the corporate and social cultural scene since the era of industrialization. However, it does not lack its set of challenges and risk as discussed below.

  • Technological failure of the innovation – The biggest risk any company takes in the innovation process is whether or not the new product or idea will work once it is launched in the real world or whether it remains to be a white elephant. To manage this risk, the company may carry out trials on a small scale to test its effectiveness. Once this is done and observations made on, the necessary adjustments may be made accordingly to avert any huge losses once the product is mass produced.
  • Financial strain – Often, the innovation process is faced with the challenge of draining out the company resources as returns are usually long-term as opposed to immediate. This may lead to abortion of the product or idea once it is perceived to be non-profitable. However, you should look at the projected returns and consider whether or not the innovation aligns with its long-term goals.
  • Market failure – For innovations which involve the introduction of new products or technology to the market, it is imperative that the product meets the needs, tastes and preferences of the consumers. Failure to do this would mean that demand would be low and therefore the innovation not viable commercially. To avoid this, you should undertake extensive and in-depth market research before committing limited resources to its development and production.
  • Redundancy – With trends in the market constantly changing and many innovations emerging, it is possible that a profitable innovation today may be redundant in the near future. To counter this, there must be constant research on how to improve the existing systems and a keen observance of global trends and the factors influencing them in order to stay a step ahead.
  • Lack of capacity for implementation – This is especially a challenge for start-ups where they lack the structural and financial capacity to roll out the innovation. You then risk remaining a pipe dream. So, you may choose to look for partners who will assist in your area of lack and thus overcome the challenge. It is important that the partner also shares in the vision of the innovation to avoid conflicting interests in future.
  • Organizational risks – This refers to the risks that are faced in the structure and running of the business once the innovation is introduced. For instance, the company may revert to focusing all resources and time towards innovation at the expense of its daily activities. Proper planning and allocation of resources has to be ensured by the leadership to ensure this does not happen.
  • Unprecedented risks – These are risks that would not have been foreseen and may be influenced by factors outside the company’s control. They may involve changes in policies or political instability whose ripple effect spills over hindering the effectiveness of the innovation. It is important for the business to keep a contingency plan to buffer it against such unseen events.

How innovative companies benefit from innovations

Experience

Innovative companies have the advantage of experience in innovating a product. Since they understand the process so well, they do not have to always go through many trial and errors. The fact that they have repeated the process several times sets them apart from other companies who do not have an innovative culture.

Creativity

Innovative companies attract innovative employees. Since the company maintains an innovative culture, the employees understand that they are responsible for innovations and implementation of new products. Moreover, every stage of the innovation process is characterized by a large number of experienced personnel who ensure that the process goes on smoothly.

The experienced professionals ensure the conceptualization, design and implementation of the idea is completed. Besides, they make sure the product is desirable to customers.

Leadership

As a matter of fact, innovative companies are industry leaders. They are always ahead of the others in the market. Even if the others try to catch up, they can’t. This is because they only copy what the industry leaders do.

By the time they implement the idea fully, the innovative company already has a new product. Therefore, innovative companies set the pace for the industry.

Name recognition

Companies with an innovation culture are known in their industry. Therefore, they do not have a huge budget on marketing and branding. As a fact, customers look forward to new products from the company.

INNOVATION PROCESS

The innovation process is a structure strategy that ensures that the innovation team idealizes an innovation and runs with it until it is successfully implemented. However, the way you understand the innovation process greatly influences the way you establish it.

In this section, we shall discus why it is good to use a structured innovation process. We shall also demystify the innovation process by explaining each step that needs to be followed until the innovation is implemented.

We will so look at how your understanding of the process affects the outcome. Besides, I will also highlight some conditions that disrupt the innovation process.

Why use a structure innovation process?

Have you ever heard that quitters do not win and winners do not quit? A structured innovation model will help you face every challenge head on and to take the innovation seriously. It gives you a strategy of how to tackle every step along the way.

Without a structure, the innovation process can seem complex, big and unachievable. However when you use structure, you simplify the process. Benefits of the structure include;

  • Creates urgency: Innovations are never urgent in nature: they are thought of as something to be implemented in the long run. You can spend one year talking about an innovative idea and by the end of the year; you have nothing to show for it. This is because immediate matters arise every now and then and you keep postponing the implementation of an innovation. Initially, you do not need a lot of time to plan for the innovation. So, you can set apart an afternoon for an innovation meeting every week. With time, you will see some progress and the innovation will not interrupt other processes. Besides, it will not be forgotten.
  • Increases efficiency and effectiveness: All leading companies embrace innovation as their core culture. Innovation can be a one time or a continuous process. By relying on a structured innovation process, you increase your efficiency and the outcomes of your innovation are more likely to be adopted in the market. This separates you from other companies who do not take innovations seriously.
  • Increases performance: Since the innovation process follows a step by step model, it gives you an opportunity to improve on your weak areas. For example, if you are good at implementing  ideas but poor at analysis, then you have to make sure you improve on your analytical skills. Therefore, structure enables you to effectively apply all aspects of the process. As a result, the innovation process yields positive outcome for you.
  • Incentives and rewards: You need a team of participants to carry out a successful innovation process. Note that not all the ideas proposed will be successful; some will fail terribly. However, others will be successful. The employees taking part in the innovation process need to be appreciated for their efforts. Besides, they need to learn lessons from failed processes. A structure identifies failures and the mistakes that lead to the failure. Besides, it makes it easy to reward participants who perform exemplary well. The rewards and lessons learnt act as motivation tools for an innovation culture.

Different understanding on innovation and their consequences on the innovation process

  • If the innovation process is viewed as a process where only specialists participate, then there will be very little involvement from all the employees. Some employees will keep off since they do not feel like they are specialists.
  • Small companies view innovation as a process for the big companies only. This is because they conceptualize the innovation process as a complicated process which they lack the capacity to handle. Innovation can involve small and big changes so the small businesses miss out on market and technical opportunities which they could have enjoyed had they involved themselves in innovation. If you have a small business that produces books, you can add a section for dates at the top of every page. It will not cost you much but it will draw people to your books.
  • Innovations that are entirely targeted miss out on opportunities for new customers. For example, supermarkets could give awards to people with the highest loyalty points to the end of the year. The incentive might not attract more customers if it is only focused on customers who acquired loyalty cards a month before the service was introduced. Customers who acquire the cards later will not feel valued. As a result, they might not feel compelled to acquire the cards.
  • Another misunderstanding is looking at the innovation process as a linear process. A linear process relies on either technology or market trends as sources of innovation. As a result, a lot of money is spent on research and development and other sources of innovations are ignored. The customer, suppliers, public, and employees are ignored as sources of innovation. The innovation is therefore not a representation of the needs of the customers.
  • Companies look at innovations as breakthroughs and fail to think about incremental innovation. A good example is what happened concerning electric light using the Edison design. The design of the bulb did not change for 16 years after it was created. When a product and process improvement took place, the price of the bulb was reduced by about 80%.
  • Often times, the innovation process is looked at as an independent process separate from the other processes in the organization. This is not right as all processes in an organization work together to support each other. Besides, the other processes in the organization. This is not right as all process in an organization work together to support each other. Besides, some organizations look at the process of innovation differently from the product being produced. This is a misunderstanding as the process and product relate to each other.

Innovation involves some players and set rules. The two make up the rules of the game; they can therefore influence the conditions and space of the innovation.

If anything happens that is capable of dislocating the framework and the rules of the game, it leads to a discontionus innovation. It is a shift in the basic conditions (technology, market, regulatory social etc.) when some innovation conditions are discontinued.

Triggers of innovation discontinuity and the problems associated with them

  • Drastic shift in new political rules which influence the social and economic rules cripples old and established companies. This is because they are not able to adapt to new ways of doing business. In such instances, new businesses thrive as they quickly align their innovation plans with the new rules.
  • Markets evolve through market segmentation and growth. In contrast, there are times when new markets arise. These markets pose a challenge because they cannot be analyzed, predicted, or explored. Due to their unpredictability, established markets ignore them as small and they fail to see their potential.
  • Unthinkable events take over an industry, country, or even the world; it disrupts established markets. An example is in the case of political turmoil; businessmen cannot continue to operate in such situations. Everything is put on hold or destroyed.
  • Shifts in regulatory regime lead to new opportunities in the market. Only the companies that see the potential are able to enjoy the opportunities.
  • The behavior or opinion of people can bring a shift in innovation model. For example, since canned soda was innovated, the market share of producers of returnable bottle has reduced.
  • Innovation in business models force existing businesses to adapt to new rules of game or their market share reduces. An example is in the case of mobile money transfers. In countries where mobile money transfers are being used, the banks have had to think of ways of working together with mobile money transfer companies. Otherwise, if they do not work together, then banks will decrease in relevance.

These forces that lead to discontinuity in innovation present new opportunities to new businesses. Besides, companies that are willing to adapt to the new ways of doing things increase their market share.

To help you come up with an innovation, let me explain to you the steps of the innovation process. If you follow the steps carefully, then you will be able to come up with new ideas and to implement them successfully in the market.

STEPS OF INNOVATION PROCESS

Step 1. Idea Generation

This is the first step in an innovation process. It is where you decide on the concept that you want to develop and come up with reasons why you want to improve the idea. It is important for you to involve your employees and customers. Involving many knowledgeable people will enable you to get a better understanding of the market.

Besides, it will give you an opportunity to look at the idea in different angles. At this stage also, experts will also provide many viable ideas. There are five places where you can draw ideas for your innovation:

Customer innovation

As you work on an innovation, remember that you should have your customer in mind. Your customers should be the inspiration for all innovations. Hence, consider the feedback that they give to come up with an innovative idea.

This is an important source because if you innovate something that does not meet the needs of the customer, then the innovation is likely to fall. You can get the feedback from the social media platforms, customer feedback forms, and your employees can report to you what the customers say.

Employee innovation

Your employees relate with the customers so closely so they know their needs. Moreover, they also get first hand compliments, complains, and suggestions from the customers.

When a customer wants a service or a product, they explain to your employees so they can keep tabs on what customers want. Besides, they are in a position to identify products that are irrelevant to the customer.

When you innovate a product, your employees will be important so as to explain how a product is used to the customers. In contrast, if they do not feel as part of the innovation, they might disregard the product. As a result, they may never speak well of the product.

Public innovation

Public innovation depends on information gathered from the public. The amount of feedback received through public innovation is a lot so you must have the required expertise and equipment to handle it. Public innovation produces helpful information but you have to be ready to sieve through the information to pick what is helpful.

As you consider this model, make sure you do not use it before the others: it could probably be the last model that you employ. If you have the capacity to digest the information, you could use public innovation.

Partner/supplier innovation

You can share your thoughts and opinions with your partners and suppliers. Opening up to them helps them improve on the goods and services they supply.

A good example is wedding planners who outsource companies to provide flowers. The wedding company may have realized that the flowers wither after a short time and they look unattractive.

By sharing this information with the flower company, they can brainstorm on ways to keep the flowers looking fresh for a longer time. This innovation helps your supplier and your business. On your side, you are able to supply high quality and more improved good and services.

Competitor innovation

This is a very challenging but very efficient when it takes place. As a fact, competitors are very careful with the information they share but with a good strategy, you can learn a lot from your competitors.

This can only happen when you admit that there are other competent people outside your company.

However, it does not mean that your employees are not competent enough, they are competent, but listening from others can give you a different point of view concerning a matter.

Step 2. Advocacy and Screening

Not every idea that is generated is worth implementing, for that reason; you must screen all the ideas presented. When screening, ensure you measure the benefits and risks of each idea to determine its viability.

Any idea that has a futuristic approach should be chosen for the next stage.

Moreover, participants in this stage develop the idea to enhance it. If an idea is not considered ideal, make sure you communicate the reasons to the person who had suggested the idea.

This is important especially if the person who shared the idea is an employee so that you encourage them to suggest more ideas even if it is in the future. For a company that wants to instill an innovation culture, you should take three steps at this stage;

  • Ensure the evaluation and screening process takes place in a transparent way
  • Create a number of avenues for employees to receive feedback and advocacy
  • As an organization, you should understand that evaluating an innovative idea is a difficult assignment

Step 3. Experimentation

At this stage, the idea is tested using a pilot test. The test takes place within a targeted market. As you test your product, remember you want to know if the customers will accept it, if the price is acceptable, and if they like the innovation. The aim is to test if the idea is ideal and suitable for the company at a particular time.

Therefore, if an idea is too complex for the organization or it’s a premature idea, then it should not be implemented.  You should set aside premature ideas in your idea bank for a later date.

Apple Company once set aside an idea until the company knew it was the right time to release it to the public. When the Mp3 player was introduced in the market, Apple held back the idea of an iPod. Apple released the iPod three years after the Mp3 had already hit the market. The iPod idea was premature for the market back then and would not have attracted as many customers as it did three years later.

So, even if you realize that your idea has ben accepted in the market and the price is affordable, you might want to hold back until you are sure the time is right to release it in the market. It is only through the experimentation stage that you can get this information. So, do not assume your idea is beyond reproach to the extent that the market cannot reject it.

However, note that experimentation can be a continuous process or a one-time activity. In some instances, the experimentation stage generates new ideas. You can generate new ideas from this stage by considering the feasibility of the original idea and by analyzing the information from the results.

Give the participating team enough time to experiment and analyze the results from the experimentation.  It is at this stage where you apply for intellectual rights protection.

Step 4. Commercialization

When you get to this stage, just know the product is ready for the market. The major work at this stage is to persuade your target audience that the innovation is good for them.

To do this, explain how the innovation will be of use to them, when it will be used, and demonstrate the benefits of the innovation using the prototypes. Be very specific about the idea in regards to any information that could attract customers to your idea.

Step 5. Diffusion and Implementation

Diffusion and implementation are two different stages: diffusion is where the company accepts the innovation and implementation is setting up everything that is needed to develop and utilize or produce the innovative idea.

Knowledge brokers are used to diffuse the idea in an organization. The knowledge brokers communicate the specification about the idea and its usability. This information helps your employees to understand the idea in a deeper way. After they understand it, then they implement the idea.

Diffusion and implementation requires access to production files, logistics, and market routes amongst others. For the idea to succeed, work in collaboration with industries and businesses, get into partnership and subcontract management to ensure the innovation is fully implemented. The feedback that you receive at this stage can be used to come up with future ideas.

Five factors have been identified to affect the extent and rate of diffusion of a new product in the market. They include relative advantage, complexity, observability, compatibility, and trial-ability.

Triability

Trialability is the ability of an innovation to be experimented on. Any innovation that can be experimented on alimited basis has low level of uncertainty to potential adopters.

However, if the negative effects from experimentation are more than the positive effects, then the customers might not be quick to adopt the innovation.

Consequently, if the customer cannot separate the desirable from the undesirable consequences of an innovation, the trialability might reduce the chances of adoption.

Relative advantage

When you release a new product or service to the market, your customers will compare it with the previous product or service. They will also compare it with other products or services provided by your competitors. You product will diffuse easily only if it compares well in the two scenarios. This is called relative advantage.

The higher the relative advantage, the faster your product will be adopted. For your product to have a relative advantage, you must consider primary and secondary attributes that lead to diffusion of your innovation.

Primary attributes include the size and cost of the product. In contrast, secondary attributes include compatibility and relative advantage. In most cases, the primary attributes do not matter a lot and may remain the same for all adopters. However, secondary attributes vary from one adopter to the other.

Therefore, to overcome the challenges posed by secondary attributes, use incentives to market your products. The incentives will increase the relative advantage while at the same time reducing cost of incompatibilities and subsidizing trials.

Observability

This is the measure of the results of an innovation. The more visible the results from an innovation are, the easier it is to adopt an innovation. A good example is treatment for acne. If you come up with a treatment that works within a short time without negative side effects, then it will be adopted very soon.

This is because people will see the effectiveness of the medicine and seek to know what remedy the person who had acne has used. More and more people will be more open to use your treatment. Hence, your innovation will be adopted within a short time.

Compatibility

When talking about compatibility, it is how well the product is consistent with the existing needs, values and experience of potential adopters. Compatibility has two distinct aspects: values and norms, and existing skills and practices.

How your innovation fits in with the procedures, equipment, performance and existing skills affect the adoption process. If your innovation is a technical innovation, the adopter may be faced with two kinds of costs; the cost of purchasing and using the innovation and the cost of buying it.

So, if there is information about the innovation and there are trained personnel to use the innovation, then the cost will be reduced for the adopter. In that case they will be more receptive to acquire the innovation.

When it comes to norms and values, the organization or the innovation or the two have to change to fit in to the existing norms and values. This reduces misalignment between the adopter and the innovation. If your innovation is compatible, then it is easily adoptable.

This is why it is important to carry out continued research and development during and after the innovation process. It ensures that your innovation remains compatible throughout its lifetime.

Complexity

This is how complicated an innovation is perceived to be. If it is difficult to use or understand, then adopters might stay away from it. Innovations that require customers to acquire new knowledge might take time to be adopted.

If you are trying out something that requires new knowledge or skill, you need to be patient and make plans to provide the knowledge needed. Otherwise, you may get very disappointed with the innovation.

Learn more about the diffusion of innovations.

INNOVATION MODELS

Every person has a drive for innovation be it in small things or big ones. Therefore, we cannot assume that innovations are a modern day process. It began long ago but it is until 1960 that individuals started coming up with innovation models. So far there have been six models that have been relied on for innovations.

Technology, research and development and market trends have contributed in the evolution of the models over time. We will look at the six models to see the processes that the models proposed an innovation process should take.

We will also highlight the advantages of each model and the disadvantages. Note that the disadvantages led to the creation of new models to overcome the shortcomings of the old models. Let’s delve in.

First generation model – technology push

The first generation model was developed by NASA in 1960 as a management tool. NASA referred to the process as the Phase-review-processes or the technology push. The process was broken down to help in systematizing the work and for controlling contractors and suppliers who were working on space projects.

Since progress to the next stage relied on completion of the previous stage, the management held a meeting when a stage was completed. Their role was to determine whether the set objectives for the stage had been met. They also met to decide on the progress of the project. The processes were linear in nature and relied on engineering.

Basically, the model assumes that technological advances from scientific discovery and research and development come before ‘pushed’ technological innovation through engineering, marketing, applied research, and manufacturing towards successful inventions or products as outputs.

Advantages of the model

  • First, all the tasks were completed as one process had to be completed before moving on to the next one.
  • Secondly, the model reduced technical uncertainties.

Disadvantages of the model

  • The fact that all activities within a given phase had to be completed before progressing created delays. This is because all other activities were put on hold until the management review for the particular stage was completed.
  • Another disadvantage is that the marketing phase was left out; the model mainly dealt with the development stage of an idea.

Second generation model – market pull

The second generation models are similar to their predecessor except that, the model draws its innovation idea from the market place. The first generation model draws its idea from research and development and science which are different from the second model.

Besides, they are both linear structures.

Third generation model – coupling method

The second and first generation models had a number of limitations which the third generation model tries to overcome. Cooper is credited to have come up with the third generation models. The stage acknowledges that customer satisfaction, market trends and technology are all important in the innovation process. Cooper developed a standardized approach for development of projects.

The model uses the stage gate approach in developing an innovation. Every stage has a purpose which must be completed before moving to the next stage. If one stage is reviewed negatively, then the team does not move on to the next stage. As a result, they continue working on the present stage until it is positively reviewed.

According to the third generation model, an idea originates from creativity, customer feedback or basic research. Evaluation of the ideas takes place in the first gate. The evaluation is based on ‘should meet’ and ‘must meet’ criteria such as feasibility with company’s policies or strategic alignment. Besides, the stage is inexpensive and takes a short period of time.

The gate assesses the innovative idea in terms of finances, market and technology.  Further, the second gate characterizes detailed investigations which results in a business plan. Therefore, the business plan acts as a basis for decision making about the idea.

Consequently, if the idea is accepted, the process of developing the product begins in stage three. In addition, the team develops a marketing concept. Gate three produces a prototype of the product. The prototype is evaluated to make sure it meets the specified standard stated in gate three. During the validation stage, customer field trials, in-house product tests, trial productions and tests markets take place.

After the product is verified, then you can plan for market launch and production start-ups. The third generation model allows for not only linear processes but also parallel ones in order to speed up the process. The model also involves all processes from innovation to the launch of the idea.

Advantages of the model

  • The stage gate model is very efficient and it offers a standardized way of achieving an innovation.
  • Consequently, the model relies on loops of feedback which make it more interactive and efficient.
  • The processes involved are transparent and the teams involved share a common understanding. Therefore, there is communication within the team and with the top management. IBM, General Motors, Northern Telcoma, and 3M all use this model in all their innovations. The companies say that the model enables them to achieve success in their innovation processes.

Disadvantages of the model

  • On the contrary, the gates are rigorous in the first stages of concept and idea generation.
  • Although the model is effective, it might be inappropriate when you anticipate radical innovations. Thus, in such a case, then a more flexible, learning-based approach is sufficient.
  • The model leaves out post launch refinement, exploitation and optimization.

Fourth generation – interactive model

The fourth generation model uses an interactive approach which is different from the linear approach which the previous models use. Furthermore, the model looks at the innovation process as a set of parallel activities across the organizational functions.

However, the interactive models do not explain the innovation process. As a result, there has been an increase in:

  • Strategic vertical relationships more so at the supplier interface.
  • Horizontal strategic alliances and collaborative research and development consortia,
  • Greater emphasis in cross functional and parallel integration development within firms. The purpose for the interaction and collaboration is so as to gain greater potential from real time information processing.
  • Innovative SMEs creating external relationships with small and large firms.

The Minnesota Innovation Research program is a good example of a fourth generation model. The model was developed in 1980 and is also known as the MIRP model.

It has three distinct stages that firms follow to develop an innovative idea. There is the initiation period then the development period and finally, the implementation period. There are specific processes that take place during each stage of the process. However there are no boundaries between the periods. In fact, the characteristics between periods seem to overlap.

Specifically, the development and implementation stage overlap. This is because, a number of innovation ideas develop when the innovation team interacts with the market.

Disadvantage of the model

  • The model does not include the adoption, continued improvement and introduction to the market place processes.

Fifth generation model – network model

The fifth generation model is also known as the network model or a closed innovation model. The model was developed in the 1990’s. Closed innovation models explain the intricacy of the innovation process.

Its main focus is the involvement of the external environment. Besides, the model also focuses on effective communication with the external environment. Since innovation relies on both external and internal networks, the model emphasizes on the need for establishing links between the two networks.

Galanakis developed an innovation model which borrows a lot from the fifth generation model. His model uses the thinking approach which he refers to the ‘creative factory concept. ’The firm is at the center of the model.  Its position signifies its role in generating and promoting innovations in the nation, industrial sector and the market. Hence, the model relies on three main innovation processes:

  • The first process involves creating knowledge from industrial or public research.
  • Secondly, the product development process where the knowledge is transformed into a product.
  • Thirdly, product success in the market. The success of the product is dependent upon the product’s functional competencies. Further, it also depends on the firm’s competency to produce high quality product at a reasonable price and to place it in the market adequately.

Internal factors such as organizational structure and corporate strategy amongst other affect the process. Additionally, external factors like national infrastructure and regulations amongst others also affect the process.

Sixth generation model – Open innovation model

The open innovation model is also known as the sixth generation model. The model is a network model. It focuses on;

  • Internal and external ideas
  • External and internal paths to markets

Open innovation model looks at how a combination of the two concepts can lead to technological advancements. Chesbrough came up with the team open innovation. Besides, the model presents less risks when innovation. Companies who use this model enjoy a large pool of ideas to start with. They then narrow down to the most ideal idea.

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL INNOVATION PROCESS

While the innovation process has many desirable benefits for companies seeking to remain above the rest, successfully integrating innovation into the business and reaping the benefits is no easy task.

However, you will find listed below tips on how to make the innovation process work for you and your company.

  • Create an innovation management space: This would mean putting in place systems and structures that would not only support innovation but also evaluate the innovation process. As such, it would translate to creating the space functionality by setting aside time and resources for innovation. Where the company is large and too rigid in operation to diversify, a separate department that focuses entirely on innovation is set up.
  • Sharing the idea: To foster an innovation culture, you must take the initiative to communicate the idea to the rest of the employees. The innovation process will only be realized once everyone is aware of what they are expected to bring to the table, and they, in turn, share similar goals and objectives as the management.
  • Removing the red tape: Some company policies stifle innovation and progress. It is therefore of paramount importance that you identify these and remove them to enhance efficiency. More specifically, any bottlenecks in the flow of feedback between the management and employees should be dealt with and replaced with more open-door policies.
  • Creative thinking: Innovation always starts with thinking against the norm – challenging the existing rules and set systems. This is the wheelhouse for most start-up companies as they tend to be dynamic and versatile since they’re faced with a myriad of challenges. It is however more challenging for larger corporations that have well established and proven systems. Both types of entities must nurture this vital component in their operations, the former as a means for survival, and the latter to ensure they remain relevant.
  • Teamwork: Cohesion and concerted efforts towards innovation will ensure the process takes place with fewer hiccups. Ensure that the leadership and the rest of the staff work together in order to move the company forward. It is also critical that the potential of each of the employees is known so as to ensure their strengths and weaknesses are pitted against those of their teammates to bring about efficiency and maximum production.
  • Leading from the front: The leader must set an example for the rest of the team to follow. Once he or she works creatively and is innovative, it will be easy to motivate the rest to do the same.
  • Hold people responsible: You will also need to task people to be innovative and once you do so, ensure that they follow through and have the freedom and power to implement their ideas. This will encourage the staff in their work as they can see the results of their efforts.
  • Ample working conditions: Employees whose welfare is well catered for are more likely to be creative and more motivated to work. Therefore, it is crucial that they are not overworked and their workplace is comfortable.
  • Rewarding performance: Employee’s efforts at innovation and creativity should not go unnoticed and unrewarded. Those who prove themselves to be an asset to the company should be given more responsibility and rewarded accordingly.
  • Encourage collaboration: Due to the diversity often found in the workplace, the company can take advantage of this by teaming up people with certain skills sets and personalities and even have teams competing in bringing in new ideas.

CONCLUSION

An innovation culture is a strategy towards becoming a market leader. A company that has an innovation culture enjoys larger profit margins and is an authority in its area of industry. Though there are risks involved with the innovation process, the benefits are more. You should ensure you keep a close contact with the trends in the market to avoid creating a product that will be rejected.

Again, involve all stakeholders in the innovation process; they all have different knowledge and experience that will positively influence the process. The success of any innovation is when the product or service is accepted in the market.

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