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The innovation management process has become an important part of the operations of many businesses, as the recognition of the importance of initiatives towards innovation has become much more common.
That said, while many companies do attempt to have a solid approach to creativity and innovation, too few actually focus on it as a single function. Instead, they seem to hold many separate activities in isolation, such as brainstorming sessions, pilot projects and campaigns, and vague communication with the market, and simply keep fingers crossed that it will come together in the end. While this has worked for some in the past, it is far from the ideal way of performing this important task. Instead, the best way to accomplish this is to have a set innovation activities which integrates the activity into the regular cycle of your business. The list below shows the phases in innovation management process, which will help your organization to put it all together as one process.

Setting the goals for the process

Innovation always begins with a goal in mind. It is many times based on finding the solution to a problem. Once you have this goal, it should be discussed among everyone in the problem solving team. This team may consist of you and another person, a group of people, or may even be all of your organization’s employees. It may involve others such as your customers (who can provide suggestions and feedback based on their own experience with your product or service) or other stakeholders in the business. When you establish the team for this process, make sure that you have someone representing all the parts of the process from start to the end.

Cooperation

The innovation team should work together so that instead of trying to come up with an idea separately, they can bounce ideas off one another and create a collaborative solution. This can include the use of online tools, attendance of events such as trade shows that can be inspiring and informative, or simply consist of brainstorming sessions. You might  consider having a trained business coach facilitating the discussions. There are many online tools available for real-time document sharing that might help teams that are geographically separated to still have intense cooperation.

Combination of ideas

Once the ideas are in, choose the best ones and then consider whether they can be combined to create an even greater idea. Often, strong ideas will be complementary to one another and will join well to create an even better result. As you know, the whole result can be bigger than its individual parts. And for this combination to work well, you need representatives of all parties involved in the process, because they for sure have ideas that people from other departments could not come up with. Business coaches may be useful here for making sure that all the angles of innovative aspect are covered.

Evaluation of innovation

This is an important and yet all too frequently overlooked aspect of the innovation management process. When the best ideas have been combined, fine-tuned, and polished, it is time to subject them to evaluation based on peer reviews. This helps to ensure that any ideas that have a promising veneer but that are poorly thought out will be identified before resources, funding and time have been poured into them. It also helps to select the ideas with the greatest potential from among several that appear equally capable of being successful. It is cheap to change your innovation at this stage compared to later stages. Each step you take forward will cost you more…

Testing the ideas

Once the ideas with the greatest potential have been identified, they can be tested so that they can be better developed. One of the most common means of testing a product or service idea is to create a prototype or test group. This allows the team, as well as customers and investors to have a better look at how the product will function and what changes can be made to it so that it will be even further improved. Make sure that the product or service not only raises interest but is able to generate orders also. If people say that they are interested in it, then ask them if they give you the order right away.

Execution of innovation implementation

The ideas that survive the testing process can be further developed and altered until they are ready to be executed as a part of the business offerings. The execution of implementation is a step that is unique to your business and, unless your new product causes you to have to drastically alter the typical way that your go-to-market strategy functions, then this part of the innovation management process should be relatively commonplace in your organization. It should be easier for you to move from testing to execution if you were able to generate orders already in testing phase.

Assessment of innovation life-cycle

After the execution of an idea, its implementation needs to be carefully monitored and assessed in terms of a number of milestones that should be set. Should a milestone not be reached, then changes will need to be made or the idea will need to be shut down. Remember to keep always customer in your mind also in execution phase and design your measuring systems so that they measure added value for the customer (you get what you measure and customers weight you based on that!).

 

The next step in the process is simply to start again, always finding new needs, inspiration, solutions and taking them through the cycle until they can be offered by your company. Here are some reflective questions that you can use to evaluate innovation management process in your organization:

  • Do you have a clearly defined innovation management process?
    • If yes, is it effective?
    • If no, how do you see that clearly defined innovation management process could help your organization to achieve goals better?
  • Are all the people in your organization working together towards great innovations or do they do things on their own?
  • Do you always properly evaluate and test your innovations before taking them to market?
  • Do you measure execution of providing services or products from customer’s perspective?

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

Change strategies are not a new discussion topic, but still they keep people talking about what are the most effective change strategies available and how are they best deployed.  Thurley and Wirdenius identified some key advantages and disadvantages of change management already in 1973, which was summarized by Lockitt and 3T Productions Ltd. (2004) as follows:

Directive change strategy. This strategy highlights the manager’s right to manage change and the use of authority to impose change with little or no involvement of other people. This approach may lead to valuable information and ideas being missed and there is usually strong resentment from staff when changes are imposed rather than discussed and agreed.

Expert change strategy. This approach sees the management of change as a problem solving process that needs to be resolved by an ‘expert’. This approach is mainly applied to more technical problems and will normally be led by a specialist project team or senior manager. There is likely to be little involvement with those affected by the change.

Negotiated change strategy. This approach highlights the willingness on the part of senior managers to negotiate and bargain in order to effect change. Senior managers must also accept that adjustments and concessions may need to be made in order to implement change. This approach acknowledges that those affected by change have the right to have a say in what changes are made, how they are implemented and the expected outcomes.

Educative change strategy. This approach involves changing people’s values and beliefs in order for them to fully support the changes being made and move toward the development of a shared set of organizational values that individuals are willing, and able to support. A mixture of activities will be used: education, persuasion, training and selection, led by consultants, specialists and in-house experts.

Participative change strategy. This strategy stresses the full involvement of all of those involved, and affected by, the anticipated changes. Although driven by senior managers the process will be less management dominated and driven more by groups or individuals within the organization. The views of all will be taken into account before changes are made. Outside consultants and experts can be used to facilitate the process but they will not make any decisions as to the outcomes.

Which one is the best and how is that change strategy deployed?

Well, you might want to ask yourself, which advantages and disadvantages do you want to have? It is quite clear that in this imperfect world there is no perfect change strategy available. However, the participative change strategy seems quite compelling especially because some of the disadvantages found by Thurley and Wirdenius can be overcome with recent methods such as the CEM Method. The benefits of this approach are that any changes made are more likely to be supported due to the involvement of all those affected, the commitment of individuals and groups within the organization will increase as those individuals and groups feel ownership over the changes being implemented. The organization and individuals also have the opportunity to learn from this experience and will know more about the organization and how it functions, thus increasing their skills, knowledge and effectiveness to the organization.

 

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

I have heard some representatives of big companies saying that it is easy to change small companies, but changing a big one is difficult to do. Still there are several big companies like Best Buy, Apple, Microsoft, Google and IBM that are huge and still succeeding well. One thing that is common to them is that they are managing their customer expectations actively.
So, maybe it is not impossible to make big companies change their course also?

IBM is an interesting player on the market, since some years ago it sold its laptop business to Lenovo and decided to start focus their business more to higher profit margins by expanding aggressively overseas, seeking sales, low-cost engineering talent and quicker organizational response.

That did not happen by itself; big credit goes to Samuel J. Palmisano, who functioned nearly a decade as a chief executive in IBM. His time in IBM has been a textbook case of how to drive change in a big company (and there are many books and blog articles about him). Mr. Palmisano has explained in interviews that his guiding framework has been these four simple, but important questions:

  • Why would someone spend their money with you? What is unique about you?
  • Why would somebody work for you?
  • Why would society allow you to operate in their country?
  • Why would somebody invest their money with you?

Mr. Palmisano formulated those questions in the months after he became CEO in March 2002. In meetings after he took over, Mr. Palmisano told colleagues that IBM was still good, but that it was not the standard-setting corporation that it had been when he joined in 1973.

The four questions, he explains, were a way to focus thinking of the company beyond its comfort zone and to make IBM pre-eminent again. He presented this four question framework to the company’s top managers at a meeting in early 2003. He said: “This needs to be our mission and goal, to make IBM a great company”, according to executives who attended the gathering.

The pursuit of excellence in those four dimensions shaped the strategy of IBM. To focus on doing unique work, with its higher profits, meant getting out of low-margin businesses that were fading. IBM’s long-range technology assessment in 2002 concluded that the personal computer business would no longer present much opportunity for innovation, at least not in the corporate market.That is why they sold their PC business to Lenovo in 2004. They were not anymore the biggest PC provider in the world, but they made up elsewhere. That included acquiring other companies like PWC Consulting and others. Today they are doing bigger business than ever!

The hardest thing is answering those four questions”, Mr. Palmisano says, “You’ve got to answer all four and work at answering all four to really execute with excellence.” These four questions are important for smaller companies also, but they are crucial for bigger companies to change their course. And as IBM has shown, it is possible. Steve Jobs did the same for Apple and it is easy to see the similarities in customer focus of these companies. If you start to focus on the customer in big organizations, that will eventually turn the big ship around.

 

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

The following factors are related to management and leadership perspective in Business Process Management (BPM). You can read this list through and think about how these matters are set up in your organization.

Managers place confidence between supervisors and their subordinates.

The middle management is in many organizations the biggest obstacle to success. Higher lever managers do not trust their middle management and middle management do not trust their subordinates. This causes several bottlenecks that hinder communication and cooperation. Confidence between these parties is crucial.

Managers share vision and information with their subordinates.

It is important for employees to know where organization is heading at. In old world hiding information was quite normal, but nowadays all the information is available for everyone anyway, so there is no reason for managers not to share information regarding organization with their employees.

Managers constructively use their subordinates’ ideas.

Those people who actually do the work are the ones that have good ideas how to improve the organization. Thus, managers should listen to their employees and use these ideas to improve the organization.

Top management frequently communicates with project team and users.

Managers who do not talk to their employees are bad managers. They should not sit in their ivory towers and give out orders, but rather they should participate and communicate with everyone in the organization. That helps the flow of  information and stops the bottlenecks even before they arise.

Top management generally has realistic expectation of the projects.

Many times top management is somewhat disconnected from realistic expectations. According to Bain & Co. 80% of CEOs think their organization is providing great customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. Top management should realistically understand expectations of the improvement projects the organization is performing.

Top management has sufficient knowledge about the projects.

Top management should know what kind of improvement projects is going on in the organization. This helps them to understand what is going on and how it fits the big picture. So, make sure that top management stays up to date about your improvement projects.

Top management generally supports changes in processes.

If there is no support for changes by the top management, those improvements will not have chance to realize. So, the organization should have culture of continuous improvement and all good changes should be supported by the top management.

The employees are empowered to make decisions.

Old fashioned way of managing thinks that managers know everything and tell employees what to do. However, we are all people capable of thinking and we should be allowed to use our brains for the benefits of the organization. Managers do not need to decide every little detail and employees should be empowered to make decisions that take the organization forward.

Organization has empowered process owners, who are responsible.

Someone should be responsible for the processes in your organization. That person needs to be empowered to optimize the process and he should also have appropriate education and knowledge to do that. As you well know, money usually dictates who can do what, so make sure that when process owners have responsibilities, they need to have resources also. If process owner cannot have those resources personally (money, people, etc.), then make sure that the co-operation between process owners and line managers works well.

The performance measurements adequately correspond to the processes and changes into them.

You get what you measure. Thus, your organization should only measure what is really important and when you get the results, you should do the changes they require. There is no point to measure, if you do not act. The customer experience is the process; the organization should carefully measure their performance based on factors related to that.

 

You can reflect these factors to your organization for example with the following questions:

  • Does your top management have realistic expectations on projects?
  • How open communication do you have in your organization?
  • Does your organization listen to ideas and actually implement them to improve organization?
  • Are your employees empowered to make decisions?
  • Does your top management support changes in processes?
  • Do you measure the right things and act based on the results?
  • Do you have confidence between your different management levels and subordinates?

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

ased on extensive literature research on scientific journals, I have found the following factors related to Change Management perspective to be relevant for an organization to succeed in Business Process Management. You can read this list through and think about how these matters are in your organization, no matter if you are new to BPM or already seasoned.

There are training and educational programs to update employees’ skills.

People need to have good skills on their jobs. When you train employees, it does not just increase happiness, it will also help you to get your change programs through easier. That is because people do what they know and if you do not train them to know new things, the old ways will die hard. Especially in BPM, where the term is not always clear to everyone, it is important for your organization to train people to understand the concepts of BPM.

The reward system adjusts to serve the employees after the changes.

People do what they get rewarded on. When you do process improvement in your organization, remember to keep your reward system up-to-date and reward people only for the results that you want to achieve in your organization. Actually, when you want to change something, you should change the reward system first so that people are eager to change things rather than staying with old ways. As you well know: “Money talks…”

BPM concepts and methodologies are known and understood.

Business Process Management is not very clearly defined term. It will mean different things in different organizations. Therefore you should train your people to know the basic concepts and methods, so that will will have common language to talk about change programs. This includes also top management, which should have and use the same language as employees also.

People are eager to improve the existing state of processes.

The culture of organization should be change positive. When people are rewarded on change and they are taught to embrace positive change, then doing change programs will be easier and faster. People will resist what they are afraid of, so feed the atmosphere of questioning current state of processes and foster the ideas that people have for improvements.

The project plan for re-engineering processes is adequate.

You should start with the end in mind. How do you change your organization from current situation to the new one? Do you have enough resources? Is there enough time, money, etc. to make the change program successfully?

You can reflect above mentioned factors to your organization for example with following thought provoking questions:

  • What are your people rewarded on?
  • Do you ask employees for new ideas and take them into use?
  • Do you have training programs for BPM?
  • Is your customer experience aligned with process improvements?
  • Are your employees eager to improve the processes that you have now?

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

For consultants selling creativity to organizations is quite easy, because there is unlimited demand for it. Who would not want to improve their business at any given moment if it means getting more money? But, there are no authorities watching over this creativity creation and even companies who sell creativity seem to get stuck every now and then.

Isn’t it so that when the organization is having it’s roughest time, the people start to innovate new things, because they have to? That is not ‘true’ creativity however, since it is done under pressure. Organizations that show true creativity dismantle and rebuild their processes from time to time to make better structures. I bet you know the old saying: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Creative organizations are doing exactly that; fixing the process even it ain’t broken YET. It does not mean that those organizations should run around like headless chickens renewing their processes just for the sake of doing it.

Renewing organization processes is most definitely needed and it must be nicer to do it when things are still all right, rather than when it is too late. What should be the perspective on innovating the processes then? Effectiveness, productivity, revenue, etc.? If we think about the question why those processes exist, maybe we will find the answer also. The customer is the very reason for any business organization to exist. Those working in public sector might think  that it does not involve them, but they are wrong. Even in the public sector, money comes from somewhere and is used to do something. Then there must be a customer, too!

When we start to innovate processes based on the customer needs, we get into the very source of business. People have interactions with your organization, because you fill in some need for them. And whoever does it best will get the most clients. How can organizations have endless process creativity then? Certainly, knowing their customers really well and being able to think outside the box how to fill their needs.

Here are some reflective questions for you to ask:

  • Are our processes designed and optimized from the customer’s perspective?
  • How do we optimize our processes? Does that work as well as it should for us?
  • Do we have a process for optimizing processes?
  • How do we handle new ideas, innovations and such in our organization?
  • Do we think “out of the box” when planning our processes?

 

Get Janne Ohtonen's latest BPM book for free at http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/