Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Innovation Management

Innovation Management- An Introduction
Meinrad Calleja, 2005

Innovation has been described as ‘the generation and application of new ideas and skills’. Innovation usually concerns product/ process. However, innovation ‘management’, as distinguished from ‘evolution’, is concerned with identifying innovation opportunities and facilitating their implementation. In short, innovation management does not only encourage ‘innovation’ as in technical development, but actually manages its parameters beyond mere ‘production’. Innovation management actually gauges impact assessment and sustainability of innovation, managing both the demand and supply variables over long-term time-frames, while also exploring ancillary consumption opportunities within a wider context.

Post-Taylor / Post-Fordist scientific management was concerned with de-layering the vertical management hierarchies, deskilling, technological innovation, and democratizing institutional practices to facilitate the channeling of ‘innovation’ recommendations that may have been overlooked because of sterile bureaucratic practices that stifled active constructive participation. This type of management encouraged ‘innovation’ through business models that explored what was wrong, why it was not working, and what could be done to improve the production process and wok environment. Some major cost-cutting recommendations were highlighted as the apotheosis of this seemingly hybrid management culture. Major corporations restructured their organizations’ management policies to reflect this novel ethos. Such management was not always clear on whether it was merely enhancing its corporate image cosmetically or restructuring its business practices. On both counts, management was not always coherent on identifying whether change was cyclical or structural. Often, innovation was encouraged but not ‘managed’.   

Innovation seeks to improve the efficiency of products and processes. Innovation management seeks to understand the dynamics of these relationships and (through ‘foresight’) to preempt possible demands and provide for delivering supply through innovation, while actually controlling this innovation. This is crucially different to simply purging the environmental and climatic conditions conducive to innovation. Sometimes innovation management need not alter the product or process at all, but only the external environment.

Innovation management may also break down innovation deliveries to be spread out over incremental provisions. This ensures market orientation for deliverables, cost spreading, induced demand, branding acclimatization, and value creation. An example of such innovation management is found in consumer products that involve notable R&D and marketing costs, as well as an envisaged long-term ‘brand-loyalty’. For example, when Gillette invested heavily in the innovation of a razor blade, they broke down the ‘innovation’ into incremental provisions that were delivered to consumes in piecemeal trounces according to various pre-determined economic factors related to (a/ pro- gnostic) market research analysis. Where products are relatively accessible this is quite common. Technological products, like for example, mobile phones or DVD’s are also availed gradually. This is a typical innovation management model. It factors-in not only the innovation of the product, but the entire supply-demand dynamics management chain. To understand innovation management the entire dynamics of this chain has to be appreciated.

In this scenario, innovation may be described as ‘a process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge through the creation, diffusion, and transformation of ideas to produce new of significantly improved products and processes’.

Innovation management is concerned with holistically identifying the ‘value-development and transformation’ through the employment of analytical skills and de/ in- ductive processes managed from competence centers that make use of competitive intelligence data gathering/ mining, creatively diversified R & D targeting metrics, foresight hind/ fore-casting processes that take cognizance of holistic contexts and trends, and flexible stakeholder resource sharing. Innovation management ought to be capable of ‘networking’ otherwise dispersed or scattered sources of intellectual capital and developing and transforming this into value. Cultural, infrastructural, and strategic corporate policy organization has to be aligned to a transformative development synthesis that is capable of stimulating creativity and facilitating or enabling this to be transformed into ‘exchange’ / ‘use’ potential, rather than isolated transaction-centric value. Rather than focusing on isolated variables within production and end-user processes, innovation management ought to look beyond the concrete economic to the intangible socio-cultural and technological realms of consumption ‘potential’ to ‘spot and shape’ demand and supply.  

Innovation incubation business models often tend to evolve into template-management manuals bound by sterile protocols that are based exclusively on the adherence to rationality criteria. These models are based on dominant paradigms that tend towards fossilization. Paradigm shifts (in Khun’s sense) occur only when a dominant model is superceded by revolutionary innovation.

Innovation management is concerned with accentuating the ephemeral or transitory nature of these production / processes and seeking their modification by abstracting initially untested yet apparently viable non-core-competence conduit [demand] possibilities that could be potentially shaped and nurtured. A business model that exemplifies this innovation management, for example, would be the evolution of recent mobile telephony use and the extension of what was previously merely a communication process to now incorporate extensive non-communication services previously un-thought of. Such a transformation would not have been possible if management adhered to strictly rational models based on ‘tested’ core competence business manuals and bureaucratic templates. Such rigid models exist not only in the exclusively corporate organization but in a wider cluster of institutions that the corporation depends upon (for example, financial and academic institutions). It is crucial to break with these models and the practices they induce. Often, to put it semantically, these models rely on tiresomely over-familiar clichés. Thus innovation management ought to be implemented outside and beyond, and independently of, the production processes.    

Innovation management requires a reconfiguration of intellectual capital and a new language. Such a language needs to be morphologically and lexically re-coded to create a new form of syntax. This is what creativity is all about. Innovation management is only the medium of this communication. Lateral and creative thinking is a crucial tool for innovation management.

Meinrad Calleja
The International Journal for Innovation Research, Commercialization, Policy Analysis and Best Practice

Blog :manag/innovations.online journal


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