Getting top-management support and engagement is a critical success factor for large collaborative innovation initiatives. It adds credibility to the program, as employees see that innovation has a high priority and that there is a budget for implementing ideas. However, between top management and the employee base are several other layers of a company that play a significant role in innovation programs: the middle management.
Let’s admit it; our middle management needs a radical makeover, a new fitness regime to make us far more innovation fit. Most organisations do need to change their middles as they are far from that ‘fit for 21st century purpose’ in a constantly changing, challenging, more open innovating world.
Surprisingly the Stage-Gate concept was created in the 1980’s and led to Robert G Cooper’s different evolutions of this evolving and absorbing many new practices and experiences gained by different organizations across this time.
There is no question the Stage-Gate process has had a significant impact on the conception, development and launch of new products. Yet there have been consistent criticisms as the world of innovation has moved on. Today it is faster-paced, far more competitive and global and become less predictable. The cries of the Stage-Gate process as being too linear, too rigid and far too planned, bordering on prescriptive. The gates are too structured and the constant ‘creep’ of the controlling bureaucracy surrounding it in paperwork, checklists and justification has simply led to so much non-value-added work.
Running a successful enterprise innovation management program can be a challenging mission. Multiple factors have to be considered, each of which affect potential outcomes. One key aspect is the level of support an innovation program receives from an organization’s management. Connecting the needs of top-down management with the strategy and architecture of an innovation program will always lead to greater levels of success.
How do you decide whether to go with a new project or not – once it has shown a little bit of real promise? Increasingly, we are using social events to generate and consolidate ideas – a hackathon or a jam or a competition. And we use social events to identify and reward promise – for example, HYPE client NSN’s innovation competitions. That creates a lot of goodwill and expectation but somewhere along the line a calculation of return on investment is going to be the most significant judge.
In a recent survey undertaken with HYPE we asked questions about how significant a pure ROI approach to innovation decisions really is, and in most cases it plays the most significant role. Nothing wrong with that – it’s what you’d expect. Companies need a return on investment and by and large they use conventional financial metrics to assemble an estimate.