Innovation is inherently risky. Yet, the old adage “innovate or die” requires leaders to continually invest in new product development (NPD). Success depends on rigorous processes, committed resources, and confident leadership. Transformative innovation programs include a clear vision for today and for the future. Innovation leaders guide and govern an ecosystem for NPD success.
The Innovation Framework
At the heart of innovation is strategy. An organization needs to clearly and succinctly describe its vision, mission, and values. The strategy of a firm drives its decision-making processes based on risk tolerance and a chosen business model.
Executing an innovation strategy with efficiency builds short-term and long-term success. Product portfolio management (PPM) comprises a set of executive decisions to select the highest value-added innovation projects for the organization to implement. (Please join our hands-on implementation of 100 Days to PPM in 2021 here – you will transform your innovation program! Use discount code goodbye 2020 before 20 December 2020 to save 20%.)
Hand-in-hand with project selection is the NPD process by which an individual project moves from idea to commercialization. A great number of project management tools are available today to streamline project execution in parallel with the innovation strategy. If your firm is not already using PPM software, you should resolve to find an appropriate system in the new year!
Of course, all products and services have a limited lifetime. Customer tasks and market forces change the demand curves for new products overtime. Product life cycle management matches innovation and marketing strategies with the maturity of a product. Innovation leaders are successful when their life cycle decisions align with the organization’s strategic direction.
Next, these critical elements of innovation are supported by both internal and external organizational functions. Teams and leadership are the people that do the work of innovation. The best leaders understand different working styles while engaging and motivating teams with autonomous project work. Check out a case study of success from the Team Dimensions profile in the podcast here.
NPD tools and metrics provide supporting frameworks to ensure implementation of best practices and continuous improvement. Successful innovation leaders adopt and adapt NPD tools from a variety of industries to enhance idea generation, customer interactions, and process improvement. The emerging WAGILE product development process is a way to integrate a hybrid NPD process with Design Thinking tools for active customer engagement. Register here for the February 2021 WAGILE short course.
Finally, market research directly links customer satisfaction in a feedback loop to the business strategy. Market research teaches an organization about customer needs, emotional drivers, and transient competitors. You must have both primary and secondary market research tools in place to gather customer insights for existing and new products.
Why You Need to Define Innovation Leadership
First, 60 to 80% of CEOs believe that innovation is crucial to the long-term growth of their business. Yet, key stakeholders have marginal opinions of the new products and services offered in the marketplace. About one-quarter of customers do not believe new products are innovative. Executives and senior leaders struggle with repeatable innovation that drives top line growth.
Defining innovation leadership is based on our Flagship Innovation Leader program that transforms individuals and organizations from struggling individual contributors to a high-performance innovation machine. Understanding and acting upon your organization’s innovation health will breathe new life into your NPD programs. Take the Innovation Health Assessment™ here and benchmark your performance with industry.
For anyone wanting to learn more about innovation best practices, please check out our full list of courses including NPDP Certification and Innovation Best Practices starting on 14 January. Please use discount code goodbye 2020 for a 20% discount on any single course at Simple-PDH.
Another important resource for you as you define innovation leadership is The Innovation ANSWER Book. This book has simplified the content from the PDMA Body of Knowledge so that you can use The Innovation ANSWER Book both as a study guide for NPDP certification and to guide practical industry implementation of innovation best practices. Get your copy at Amazon (paperback or Kindle).
What Are Your Plans for 2021?
To define yourself as a transformative innovation leader, you need to sustain continuing education. Innovation is learning! For more information on open courses and customized learning for innovation best practices, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or area code 281, phone 787-3979.
I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.
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