Leverage Innovation Network
How many people in a company are engaged in finding innovations? An average SME company with sales of around $ 1 billion has around 50 core employees working on R & D. Such a company also works with 200 core suppliers. If the company can get just one developer at each of these suppliers to think about innovations, the number of “brains” at work is increased fivefold.
This is the underlying idea behind innovation networks. At a time when competitive pressure is high and engineers are in short supply, innovation networks are increasingly important. The benefits are obvious: companies with successful innovation management enjoy stronger and more profitable growth. The best starting point for an innovation network is the suppliers, since they are well acquainted with the needs of the company and the industry as a whole. Besides suppliers, innovation networks often include customers, competitors, research institutes, market researchers, business consultants, and former employees .
Within the company, the innovation process involves not just R & D and procurement, but many other units as well-marketing / PR, sales and distribution, production, quality, trend scouts, and service, plus the company ’s top management.
In this way, an innovation network enables development to acquire insights into new technologies. These insights can then help the company free itself from dependence on suppliers. For an innovation network to be effective, the following features are essential:
Top-down driving of innovation as an integral part of corporate strategy
Clearly defined (in writing) strategy and search fields
Corporate culture-embedded receptiveness toward innovative ideas
Fostering of close collaboration and internal / external networking
Active management of the ideas pipeline
With regard to process and product technologies, a consistently high level of company-wide standardization and reutilization
Systematic pursuit of goals and establishment of structures for learning from experience
HR tools to help integrate innovations
In companies that are innovation leaders, structured processes are used for evaluating ideas. A number of factors have proved successful in this context. First, it is important to make systematic use of all ideas and their sources. Great weight and care need to be accorded to pre-qualifying ideas so as to avoid tying up resources unnecessarily. Also, feedback should be given for every idea within a short time (approximately six weeks). To enable an actual decision to be reached quickly within the evaluation process, a special governance structure should be introduced—here, web-based technologies can also be helpful.