Innovation Management 5: The Implementation System Needs New Thinking


The first ten percent of innovation management has been carried out when people have become inspired in innovativeness and gained practical operational experience on it. This is only the beginning. What will include the next 25 % of innovation management?

Next, the enthusiasm should be utilised in the whole organization. It will not happen spontaneously. You need to work for it at least in four ways.

First it´s necessary to define which processes in innovation are the most essential ones. Essentiality here means which processes are absolutely necessary in generating higher novelty. Secondly you´ll need a clear system in order to implement the essential processes in the whole organization. Thirdly it´s important to improve the skills and methods throughout the organization so that people can carry out the essential processes. Fourthly you´ll need much more collective pondering, discussion and working so that innovativeness becomes a solid and integral part of the organization culture.

The first task is to define the most essential and effective processes. After that it´s possible to construct a suitable system in order to implement them. One way is to ask very innovative people directly, which processes are the most essential ones in their experience.

The first essential process is identical with the process underlined in the beginning of innovation management. It´s essential to help people to understand the core of innovativeness, to get inside the world of innovative thinking, to get personal experience on it and above all to become inspired. If this process is not implemented well and continuously maintained, it´s not possible to implement other essential processes successfully.

The first process sets several requirements concerning the implementation system. The focus will shift from form structures to actions and from formalities to dynamics. It´ll impose extensive skill requirements for all managers. It´s not enough if they know the process diagrams, formal tasks and proceedings and are monitoring their implementation. All managers from bottom to top must have ability to understand and manage the dynamics of innovativeness. They have to be capable of steering the powers and methods needed in generating, maintaining and leading innovativeness.

The system has to be able to direct and motivate people to concrete innovation and to engage them continually in the innovation process. The system has to be able to keep people inside the innovation stream, enjoying it and putting it into practice.

It´s not possible to manage this process as an outsider. It´s necessary to understand it also from within. If managers do not do so, the system will easily become like a barrel in an old proverb: ”empty vessels make the most sound”.

The second essential process is to search for objects for innovation. Very innovative people emphasize the importance of object-searching much more than others. They use more time for searching, analyzing and evaluating of potential objects. The gear of searching is continuously on. They are monitoring their surroundings, perceiving situations and communicating with other such a way. They are searching both by themselves and together with others.  The searching process contributes very strongly in which directions innovation is focusing and what kind of opportunities it will offer in theory and hopefully also in practice.

In organization such searching process should be most of all collective and not only individual. As a collective process it will automatically become communicative in which different views and knowhow are possible to utilize much more broadly than in an individual process. When the searching is primarily common activity, the results, thinking and learning during searching will also become shared.

The second essential process sets clear requirements concerning the implementation system. The communication and thinking in the community as a whole has a very important role in the implementation system. Shared pondering and communication should be very free and fluent in spite of professional, hierarchical, personal and other kind of boarders. Managers have to take care that communication will come true in the whole community and in all important processes. Managers have to ensure that the communication is fluent, continuous and dynamic. The processes, methods and ways of thinking concerning the searching for innovation objects should have a very significant role in the implementation system. Managers need skills to manage all those activities.

The third essential process is to define the areas where you will search ideas and solutions. After that the third process includes also the searching of solutions in defined areas in practice. This process is very crucial. It concretely determines what kind of solutions you are able to find and how novel solutions you are able to find both in theory and in practice. That´s why very innovative persons claim that this process is maybe the most important part of the innovation work. The searching areas have to be such that you are really able to find there very novel ideas and solutions. It´s necessary to carry out this process collectively in order to utilize all existing knowhow, experience and viewpoints in your organization and in your network. Very intensive, dynamic, many-sided and open-minded communication remain important. People will very easily fall into customary areas even though it wouldn’t give real possibilities to find novel solutions.

After you have defined and found promising searching areas, another important part of this process will start. You´ll begin to search ideas and solutions in those areas.

This third process demands that a very remarkable part of the implementation system has to include methodology and activities concerning area-defining and solution-searching. Managers need skills and ability to help people to think open-mindedly, to cross the customary boarders, to communicate dynamically and continuously develope those skills. This will be very challenging but also interesting, inspiring and educational for the managers and whole working society.  Managers have to understand those processes themselves deeply and concretely enough. Otherwise it´s difficult or even impossible to manage them successfully. You have to know what you are going to manage. And, here too, managers have to be more or less insiders and not outsiders.

Previous three processes form the core of the implementation system. The most important task of the system is to ensure that those processes will take place. Of course there are other important parts in that system, but they will not replace those three processes. The purpose of other processes is to ensure that the results of the essential processes will become reality. Without those three processes the system does not have enough dynamic power to create novelty and generate really novel material for realization processes.

We should be much more critical concerning existing implementation systems and especially concerning the ways of thinking the implementation systems are based on. They are not up to date enough. Unidentified blind spots make impossible to develope existing implementation systems effectively and really better. Traditionally we have used to constructing the shells of a barrel better than what is inside it. We should think more about it.

Focusing on essential processes and especially on those three ones is not the only truth. The purpose of it is to help thinking about what is the core and the purpose of the implementation system and to find different viewpoints.  Different viewpoints will rather easily generate new ideas also concerning the implementation system. For example the three essential processes will lead to a different implementation system than the usual one. They will also give very inspiring and strong new impacts for developing innovation management.

Pondering essential processes together in working communities will generate also some other benefits. It will help people to step more and deeper inside the world of innovativeness and to improve their innovation knowhow. They´ll learn more communicational skills and learn to discuss and think more widely and open-mindedly. The main benefit of course is that people will understand more clearly what kind of an implementation system they really need. Only after that it´s possible to construct an optimal implementation system and to manage constructing and hopefully better than their competing organizations are able to do.