Innovation: How to manage it

Managing innovation? Why put a damper on creativity? No, that is not the idea. The purpose of managing innovation is to organise all the free-flowing ideas in order to avoid chaos and to actually put all the great ideas into action.


Here are the steps to how you can manage innovation:


  1. Envision


To envision an idea is a critical step in the innovation management process. The envisioning process should put the plan in place to reach the innovation goals. Words alone are not enough. Leaders of innovative companies need to emphasise that innovation is a strategic imperative and they need to back up their words with their actions.


  1. Engage


The next step, to engage, is where ideas are generated. In this process, companies engage employees, customers and partners to capture and share new ideas. To formalise the engagement process transforms it from an unfocused and ineffective “suggestion box” to a proactive and productive approach that efficiently produces targeted innovations.


  1. Evolve


With this step, companies evolve ideas to increase their quality and value. Early feedback will allow ideas to be improved upon and problems to be raised so they can be solved or prevented. Give people a platform to exchange information, add comments and refine ideas, and remember, in order to get the most out of ideas, they need to mature. Developing these ideas in a virtual team setting provides the medium to bring group knowledge together and share it with subject matter experts, communities of interest and others by discussing, commenting and contributing to concepts.


  1. Evaluate


Companies must identify the ideas that they believe will succeed. A lot of companies are overwhelmed by too many ideas. They want to use the “wisdom of the crowd” to provide some direction on where to focus. The goal is to take potentially thousands of ideas and turn them into a more reasonable number that you can evaluate. Companies can identify the best ideas by tracking which ideas are getting the most attention, views and comments. They can also provide mechanisms for the community to rate the ideas, from a simple “like” to providing specific feedback or validation on details like technical feasibility.


  1. Execute


The best idea in the world will have no value unless it can be transformed into a reality. The execution process takes the input from the previous processes to execute an official project which will further build on the idea. Companies should have a repeatable project management method and should plan projects based on the deliverables to be completed. One of the clearest challenges that companies face in the execution phase is simply getting projects delivered on time and on budget while maintaining quality.


In conclusion, successful innovations are the result of carefully examining the target market and the available technology to meet customer needs. Essentially, innovation management means to be innovative in order to come up with solutions, before competitors have realised there is a problem.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

The labour cop out on jobs

By Jerry Schuitema.


There are a number of follies in the intensified hype around job creation. One that came from the recent job summit is setting some target, albeit vague, of creating some 275 000 000 jobs a year. We should have learned by now that there are many forces outside of measures we can take ourselves that can turn the employment environment on its head.


Another is an attempt to create some form of tangible cohesion between representatives of groups that are so widely fragmented themselves. There can be no greater forces for cohesion in a group than having a common purpose and accepting a common fate, and the extent to which these can be forged in efforts such as the job summit will ultimately determine its success.


The only counter we can create against outside forces is a flexible economic construct that can absorb the bad times and exploit the good times to the fullest. In a business sense this can only be built on the principles of having a common purpose and sharing a common fate; a subject I have dealt with in depth in the revised version of my last book Common Purpose; Common Fate (a free pre-publication PDF copy of which can be downloaded here).


One can only find a common purpose by being outward looking; by making a contribution to the outside world — specifically customers or the needs and wants of others. Customers create jobs – not capital, labour or even government. By its very nature, jobs (and profits and taxes) are an outflow of that. So the concepts of job retention or job creation are inward looking and mostly end up in a toxic trade-off.


Unemployment is the outcome of losing jobs faster than we can create new jobs. Fix the problems causing job losses and job creation will take care of itself. We cannot do so by simply making some “sacrifices” by corporate capital in where it invests, who it buys from and occasionally waiving a dividend; or by labour being “less militant” in fighting retrenchments. The latter is something of an inconsistent trade-off for not insisting on a retrenchment moratorium.


The cohesion we seek at national level can only be effectively created at an individual company level – the wealth creating cells of our economy. Jobs are created and or sustained by an ability to create wealth, not simply redistributing wealth creation itself. It’s much easier to create cohesion around wealth creation because all can subscribe to the company’s common purpose of serving customers; irrespective of individual motives such as making a profit or receiving a wage. The latter are entirely dependent on the former, and the more these motives can be aligned to the former, the greater its flexibility and strength.


The single biggest drawback that continues to bedevil all efforts at creating flexibility and economic strength, is the cop-out by organised labour. It consistently behaves as a beneficiary or recipient rather than a contributor. Yet, as shown statistically by a national Contribution Account© of average company wealth creation and distribution, they are by far the biggest group beneficiaries in wealth distribution. But, because value added itself represents both contribution and reward, it can be argued that that share represents contribution as well; meaning that they are the biggest contributors to wealth creation. Unfortunately, that part is the most rigid and inflexible in its individual units of the wage itself. When wealth creation is lower, other interests, particularly capital, scramble to protect earnings and when unit costs are inflexible you simply have to reduce the number of units.


As long as wealth creation itself is under pressure, job losses will be the illogical outcome. I say illogical because faced with a socio economic crisis of nearly 4 out of ten employable people being out of work, it should make sense for labour to be more militant against retrenchments, and less militant if not more accommodating on wages. At the very least, it should not stand in the way of those enterprises who have such a solid relationship between all of its stakeholders that some sense of common fate, tangibly expressed in fortune sharing, is endorsed by labour itself. But it could even go much further and commit to protecting customer interests at all times and doing nothing that will harm customers, who are the real job creators for business.


Companies themselves can go a long way in creating labour flexibility: by encouraging an understanding of the value-creating (rather than profit) paradigm of business, and being consistently transparent about the performance of the company in an accounting expression that makes sense to all. The two pillars of optimum wealth distribution are to meet the legitimate expectations of all of the stakeholders and to encourage continued contribution.


These are far more manageable than one may think. All one has to do is change the lens through which one see business: from an institutional and money view; to a people and relationship view. That’s all. Do that and see what happens.



This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)