How to Kickstart Innovation Management? The Go-To Guide

10 min read

Innovation is the lifeblood of modern businesses, but mastering innovation management can be a daunting challenge. We’ve created the ultimate guide to demystify the process and empower your organization to thrive in today’s dynamic landscape.

It offers practical insights, strategies, and actionable steps to help you jumpstart and sustain innovation within your organization. 

This guide will equip you with the tools and knowledge needed to foster a culture of innovation and ensure long-term success.

What is innovation management?

Innovation management systematically nurtures creativity and harnesses it to drive meaningful organizational changes and improvements. It involves strategically planning, guiding, and overseeing all innovation-related activities, from idea generation to implementation.

At its core, innovation management fosters an organization’s culture of innovation, where employees are encouraged to think outside the box, explore new possibilities, and contribute their creative ideas. 

It’s not limited to a single department or team; it should be ingrained in the company’s DNA, influencing how it approaches product development, services, processes, and its overall business strategy.

Innovation management encompasses various aspects (all parts of an innovation roadmap), including:

  • Idea generation: This phase involves soliciting, collecting, and evaluating ideas from employees, customers, and other stakeholders. It’s about creating an environment where innovative ideas can flourish.
  • Idea screening: Not every idea is viable or aligned with the organization’s goals and OKRs. Innovation management involves carefully screening and selecting the most promising ideas to move forward.
  • Development and prototyping: Once an idea is chosen, it’s time to develop a prototype or a detailed plan for implementation. This phase may require resources, collaboration, and testing.
  • Testing and validation: Innovative concepts and prototypes undergo rigorous product testing to ensure they meet the desired outcomes and address potential challenges.
  • Implementation: Successful ideas are integrated into the organization’s operations, whether they involve new products, services, processes, or business models.
  • Monitoring and adaptation: Innovation management extends beyond implementation. It requires continuous project monitoring, feedback, and adaptation to ensure that innovations remain relevant and effective, and the team is productive as well.
  • Cultivating a culture of innovation: A crucial aspect of innovation management is fostering an environment where employees are motivated to contribute ideas and embrace change and manage it. This involves leadership support, open communication, and recognition of innovation efforts.

Now, let’s dive into why innovation management matters.”

Why does innovation management matter?

Innovation management is an indispensable force driving modern organizations toward success and longevity. It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a dynamic catalyst for progress and competitiveness, underpinned by numerous compelling reasons.

Innovation is the key to survival for all the companies. Emerging technologies, evolving customer preferences, and dynamic markets demand constant adaptation. Organizations that embrace innovation secure their place in an ever-evolving world. Moreover, innovation bestows a competitive advantage. By creating cutting-edge products (and their visions), streamlining processes, or enhancing customer experiences, companies stand out in crowded markets, leading to increased profitability.

Innovation keeps organizations aligned with market trends and evolving customer demands. This market relevance, in turn, fosters customer loyalty, as unique offerings resonate with customers.

A culture of innovation attracts top talent, leading to engaged and satisfied employees. These employees also contribute to risk mitigation by proactively exploring new solutions and anticipating challenges. Additionally, innovation fuels sustainable growth while ensuring compliance with evolving regulations. It aligns growth with environmental and social responsibility, making it adaptable to regulatory changes.

Understanding why innovation management matters sets the stage for exploring its key areas and strategies.

What are the areas of innovation management?

Innovation management encompasses interconnected areas that collectively drive an organization’s ability to innovate effectively. These areas are like the pillars supporting the innovation ecosystem within a company. They include capabilities, structures, culture, and strategy, each playing a distinctive role in shaping an organization’s innovative capacity.


Innovation capabilities refer to an organization’s inherent capacity to generate, nurture, and implement innovative ideas. This involves the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to turn concepts into tangible innovations. 

Building innovation capabilities includes training employees, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and investing in research and development. The strength of an organization’s innovation capabilities directly influences its ability to innovate consistently.


The structures within an organization provide the framework for innovation to flourish. This involves creating dedicated teams, departments, or innovation labs that drive innovation initiatives. 

Well-designed structures facilitate the efficient flow of ideas, resources, and communication, ensuring that innovative projects are properly supported and executed.


A culture of innovation is the bedrock upon which successful innovation management is built. It encompasses the values, norms, and behaviors that encourage employees to think creatively, take calculated risks, and embrace change. 

A culture that rewards experimentation, tolerates failure as a learning opportunity, and promotes open dialogue is more likely to foster innovation. Leaders play a critical role in shaping and nurturing this culture, as their actions and attitudes set the tone for the entire organization.


Innovation strategy is the roadmap that guides an organization’s innovation efforts. It involves defining clear goals, priorities, and timelines for innovation initiatives. A well-crafted innovation strategy aligns innovation efforts with the organization’s broader business objectives and market needs. 

It also helps allocate resources effectively, ensuring that innovation investments yield meaningful returns.

These four areas of innovation management—capabilities, structures, culture, and strategy—work together to create an environment where innovation thrives. 

An organization with strong innovation capabilities, supportive structures, a culture that encourages innovation, and a well-defined innovation strategy is better equipped to generate and implement innovative ideas, stay competitive, and lead in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Exploring the areas of innovation management naturally leads to an understanding of the diverse types of innovations.

What are the types of innovations?

Speaking about innovations, not all advancements are created equal. Innovations can vary in impact, scope, and strategic significance. Understanding the different types of innovations is crucial for organizations seeking to foster a culture of creativity and drive meaningful change. 

Sustaining innovation, or incremental innovation, is about improving existing products, services, or processes. It involves incremental enhancements or optimizations to maintain competitiveness and meet customer expectations. Sustaining innovations typically refine and build upon current offerings, resulting in gradual improvements. 

These innovations are essential for businesses looking to stay relevant in established markets and retain their customer base.

Breakthrough innovation represents a significant leap forward, often resulting in groundbreaking products, services, or processes. 

It transcends incremental improvements and introduces transformative changes that redefine industries. Breakthrough innovations are characterized by their potential to disrupt markets, create new categories, and provide organizations with a competitive edge. 

They require a high level of creativity, risk-taking, and investment in research and development.

Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen. It refers to innovations that disrupt existing markets by offering simpler, more affordable, or entirely new solutions that initially cater to niche segments. 

Over time, disruptive innovations can grow to challenge and eventually replace established market leaders. Disruptive innovations often target underserved or overlooked customer groups and gradually gain broader acceptance, reshaping industries.

While not always categorized as innovation in the traditional sense, basic research plays a fundamental role in driving future innovations. 

Basic research is driven by curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge without immediate practical applications in mind. It lays the foundation for breakthroughs by expanding our understanding of scientific principles and technologies. Innovations often emerge from the insights gained through basic research, making it a vital part of the innovation ecosystem.

Understanding the types of innovations paves the way to explore where to discover them.

Where to find innovation?

Innovation can manifest in various forms and originate from diverse sources. To foster a culture of continuous improvement and stay competitive, organizations must explore multiple avenues for innovation. Here are three key sources of innovation:

Internal innovation refers to generating and developing innovative ideas, solutions, and improvements from within the organization. 

This approach harnesses the creativity and expertise of employees, encouraging them to contribute their insights and collaborate on innovation projects. Internal innovation can result from structured innovation programs, brainstorming sessions, cross-functional on-site or remote teams, or the dedication of resources to research and development within the organization. 

By nurturing a culture that values and rewards creativity, organizations can tap into the vast potential of their workforce to drive innovation.

The next, external innovation, involves seeking innovative ideas, technologies, or solutions from sources outside the organization. This can include collaborating with external partners, such as suppliers, customers, research institutions, or industry experts. 

It also encompasses scouting for emerging trends and technologies in the broader marketplace. By engaging with external networks, organizations gain access to fresh perspectives, novel ideas, and complementary expertise that can enhance their innovation efforts. 

External innovation can lead to valuable partnerships, joint ventures, or acquisitions that drive growth and competitiveness.

Finally, startups often serve as hotbeds of innovation, known for their agility, creativity, and disruptive potential. Organizations can tap into startup innovation by partnering with or investing in startups that align with their strategic goals. 

Startups can provide access to cutting-edge technologies, novel business models, and entrepreneurial talent. Collaborations with startups can lead to the rapid development of innovative products, services, or solutions, helping established organizations stay at the forefront of their industries. 

Corporate accelerators and incubators can also facilitate partnerships between established companies and startups, fostering a symbiotic relationship that fuels innovation.

Once you know where to find innovation, let’s explore how to manage it effectively (without micromanagement).

How can you manage innovations?

Managing innovations effectively requires a strategic approach that aligns with your organization’s unique needs and goals. Here are five proven methodologies and strategies for effective innovation management:

1. Innovation management can be approached through either a “push” or “pull” model. 

In a push model, the organization takes the lead, proactively setting innovation goals and directing resources toward predefined objectives. This top-down approach is often used when a clear vision or strategic imperative guides innovation efforts.

The pull model encourages employees to generate and pursue innovative ideas organically. It allows individual contributors to drive innovation, fostering a culture where innovation emerges spontaneously from within the organization. This bottom-up approach values creativity and empowers employees to take ownership of the innovation process.

2. The “phase-gate” process, also known as a stage-gate process, is a structured approach to managing innovations through distinct phases:

  1. Idea generation: The process begins with idea generation, exploring various concepts.
  2. Screening: Ideas are then screened based on predefined criteria to determine their potential viability.
  3. Development: Approved ideas move into the development phase, where detailed plans are created.
  4. Testing: Developed concepts are tested and refined, with feedback driving iterative improvements.
  5. Launch: Successful projects move to the launch phase, where they are introduced to the market.
  6. Post-launch review: Finally, a post-launch review assesses the project’s performance and identifies lessons for future innovation.

3. The lean startup methodology, popularized by Eric Ries, emphasizes a rapid and iterative approach to innovation. It is based on the iterative cycle, Build-Measure-Learn, which involves building a minimum viable product (MVP), measuring its performance in the market, learning from user feedback, and using those insights to refine and improve the product on the whole its product cycle

The goal is to reduce waste and maximize learning, ensuring that the final product meets customer needs effectively.

4. Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that prioritizes empathy, creativity, and user-centric solutions, based on the following stages:

  1. Empathize: Understand the needs and desires of users through research and observation.
  2. Define: Clearly articulate the problem or challenge to be solved.
  3. Ideate: Generate creative ideas and potential solutions.
  4. Prototype: Create prototypes to visualize and test concepts.
  5. Test: Gather user feedback and refine solutions based on their insights.

5. The “Blue Ocean” strategy, developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, is a strategic framework for creating uncontested market space. 

Instead of competing in crowded markets (“red oceans”), organizations focus on creating new market spaces (“blue oceans”) by offering unique value to customers. This involves identifying untapped opportunities and redefining industries.

Now that we’ve discussed managing innovations, let’s explore how to build the right team to drive these initiatives.

How can you build an innovation team?

Building an effective innovation team requires careful planning and execution. Here’s a practical guide on how to do it:

  1. Define your innovation goals: Begin by clarifying your organization’s innovation objectives. What specific challenges or opportunities do you aim to address through innovation? Having clear goals will help you determine the skills and expertise your team needs.
  2. Identify key roles and expertise: Based on your goals, identify the key roles and areas of expertise required for your innovation team. Consider roles such as innovators, researchers, designers, project managers, and data analysts.
  3. Diverse skillsets and backgrounds: Seek diversity in skillsets and backgrounds. Various teams tend to generate more creative ideas and approaches. Ensure that your team members bring a mix of technical, creative, and business skills.
  4. Cross-functional collaboration: Promote cross-functional collaboration within the team. Encourage members to work across departments and disciplines to leverage diverse perspectives and ideas.
  5. Empower and train: Invest in training and development opportunities for your team. Provide access to resources, courses, and workshops that can enhance their skills and keep them updated on the latest trends in innovation.
  6. Create a supportive environment: Foster a culture of innovation within the organization. Create an environment where team members feel encouraged to take risks, share their ideas, and experiment without fear of failure. Celebrate successes and learn from failures together.
  7. Project management and collaboration tools: Equip your team with the right communication and collaboration tools like PPM Express. Ensure they can access digital platforms, project management software, and tools that facilitate seamless sharing and collaboration on innovative projects.
  8. Set clear roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Consider using the RACI framework. Ensure that everyone understands their contributions and how they align with the overall innovation goals.
  9. Continuous feedback and iteration: Implement a feedback loop within the team. Regularly gather input on processes, teamwork, and projects, and use this feedback to make iterative improvements.
  10. Metrics and evaluation: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the success of your innovation team. Regularly evaluate progress and make adjustments as needed to meet your goals.
  11. Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward team members for their innovative contributions. Incentives, awards, or recognition programs can motivate and inspire your team to continue delivering creative solutions.
  12. Embrace experimentation: Encourage your team to experiment and take calculated risks. Embracing experimentation can lead to breakthrough innovations and a culture of continuous learning.
  13. External partnerships: Consider forming partnerships or collaborations with external organizations, such as universities, research institutions, or startups, to complement your team’s expertise and expand your innovation capabilities.

Building an innovation team sets the stage for measuring the impact of your innovative endeavors.

How can you measure innovations?

Innovation is more than just generating ideas; it’s about delivering tangible results that drive progress and competitiveness. To evaluate the effectiveness of your innovation efforts, you need a well-defined measurement framework that captures the right metrics and KPIs. Here’s a practical guide to measuring innovations:

  1. Define clear objectives: Set precise innovation objectives aligned with your organization’s strategic goals.
  2. Identify relevant metrics: Choose metrics and KPIs directly tied to your innovation goals, covering quantitative and qualitative aspects.
  3. Create a measuring plan: Develop an actionable plan outlining what, how, and when you’ll measure progress, aligning it with your innovation timeline.
  4. Gather data consistently: Collect data systematically from reliable sources, minimizing biases and errors.
  5. Monitor and adjust: Continuously track innovation performance using selected metrics, and use insights to adjust strategies as needed.
  6. Celebrate success and learn from failure: Recognize successful innovations and leverage failures as valuable learning opportunities for future improvements.

Here’s a table that provides examples of metrics and KPIs to consider when measuring innovations:

Aspect of InnovationMetrics and KPIs
Idea generationNumber of generated ideas

Idea conversion rate

Idea quality and relevance
Innovation portfolioNumber of ongoing innovation projects

Project success rate

Time to market for innovations
Innovation impactRevenue generated from new products or services

Market share gained or expanded

Cost savings from process innovations
Customer satisfactionNet Promoter Score (NPS)

Customer feedback and testimonials

Customer retention and loyalty
Employee engagementEmployee surveys on innovation culture

Employee participation in innovation initiatives

Employee retention rates
Return on innovation (ROI)ROI for innovation projects

Innovation cost-effectiveness

Profitability of new products or services

Measuring innovations is essential, but knowing the risks associated with innovation management is crucial.

What are the risks of innovation management?

Innovation management is a powerful driver of growth and competitiveness for organizations. However, it’s not without its challenges and risks. Here are some common risks associated with innovation management:

  • Resource allocation: Inadequate allocation of resources can hinder innovation efforts.
  • Resistance to change: Employees or stakeholders may resist disruptive innovations.
  • Unclear objectives: Lack of clear goals can lead to aimless innovation activities.
  • Risk aversion: Fear of risk can stifle creativity and experimentation.
  • Lack of innovation culture: A culture that doesn’t value innovation can impede initiatives.
  • Poor idea management: Inefficient idea processes may result in overlooked concepts.
  • Customer alignment: Failing to align innovations with customer needs can limit market appeal.
  • Resource misallocation: Poor project management can waste resources.
  • Intellectual property risks: Inadequate IP protection can expose innovations to theft.
  • Market timing: Poor timing can impact the success of innovations.
  • Regulatory compliance: Ignoring regulations can lead to legal and reputational risks.
  • Scaling challenges: Scaling innovations may present unforeseen difficulties.
  • Financial viability: Pursuing financially unviable innovations can strain resources.

Organizations need a robust innovation management strategy, effective processes, and tools to navigate these risks. 

PPM Express is another tool that can help streamline and enhance innovation management. It offers comprehensive solutions for building an innovation culture, from idea generation to project execution. With PPM Express, you can efficiently manage resources, track innovation initiatives, and ensure alignment with your organization’s strategic goals. 

Don’t let the risks of innovation management hold you back—empower your team with PPM Express to drive innovation and stay competitive.

How to Kickstart Innovation Management? The Go-To Guide
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