Technology alone is not enough to bring about innovations. Innovation management creates the necessary framework conditions to turn good ideas, knowledge and technology into successful products on the market – in other words innovations.
These framework conditions included modern methods, forms of organisation and processes, whereby the focus is on the interplay between people, technology and organisation.
More than brainstorming
The emergence of innovation is not a coincidence therefore, but the result of systematic innovation management. Besides structuring elements such as idea management, trend management, innovation processes, creativity workshops and evaluation steps, this also covers cultural elements.
Such cultural elements on the one hand cover management instruments, which offer sufficient freedom for creativity and allow time to develop even unconventional ideas to a certain level of maturity. On the other hand, open forms of organisation are also necessary, which bring employees at a company together to work on innovations. At the same time, company boundaries also have to be opened in order to integrate knowledge from external partners in the innovation process and make use of it.
Trends and opportunities
The trends and megatrends of the future must be familiar in order to be able to react to them in time and in an appropriate manner. The early identification of these developments is therefore an essential skill. The Festo Future Radar was therefore brought to life several years ago. By regularly observing different sources, trends and megatrends can be identified. This tracking down of trends is the first step on the way to a successful future management system. A detailed analysis must then clarify whether a development is also truly relevant. This identifies individual opportunities and risks within a trend.
After checking the relevance and the opportunities and risks, it is then decided, based on a business plan, whether, and if yes, how to react to the trend.
Networking creative minds
Whilst inventors used to be able to push their innovations forward alone and “Gyro Gearloose” forged the model of the creative innovator, such individual performance have become more difficult these days due to the wide range of knowledge required. Innovations come about increasingly through team work today. Against the background of a world that is becoming ever more complex, it comes down in particular to bringing people together with different professional skills and personal abilities in order to create successful innovations.
Various instruments make an important contribution towards this. Ideas are looked for on specific topics as part of ideas campaigns. In this respect, an internal idea platform enables ideas to be shared, evaluated and commented on in a manner similar to modern social networks. Beyond the formal organisation, internal experts from various areas of the company are networked into virtual teams, so-called innovation fields, covering different key technical aspects. This is done through defined innovation field leaders, who initiate, moderate and structure the exchange of expertise.
Besides the networking process by topic, the systematic interface management between the individual departments involved in the innovation process plays an important role. Defined contact persons and a regular, moderated exchange of ideas are instruments that can help in this respect. Networking of the creative minds is systematically fostered in this way and the foundations laid for innovations.
Apart from the internal networking process, opening up the innovation process to the outside world also plays an increasingly important role. The background for this is that innovation more often emerges at the interfaces between technology fields these days and requires different domains of knowledge. The systematic management of the external network and of the cooperating partners is therefore critical to a successful outcome.
Beyond the network management system, this opening up process, which is also referred to as open innovation, is supported by selected instruments such as external idea contests and open innovation platforms. Open innovation instruments were also applied in the “Wilpod” research project in order to involve employees, who are not fully active at the company from time to time (training time, parental leave and semi-retirement), systematically in the innovation process, to take advantage of their internal and external perspectives and thus to exploit unused innovation potential.