The 8 Phases of an Innovation Management Process

innovation-processThe innovation management process has become an important part of the operations of many businesses, as the recognition of the importance of initiatives towards innovation has become much more common.
That said, while many companies do attempt to have a solid approach to creativity and innovation, too few actually focus on it as a single function. Instead, they seem to hold many separate activities in isolation, such as brainstorming sessions, pilot projects and campaigns, and vague communication with the market, and simply keep fingers crossed that it will come together in the end. While this has worked for some in the past, it is far from the ideal way of performing this important task. Instead, the best way to accomplish this is to have a set innovation activities which integrates the activity into the regular cycle of your business. The list below shows the phases in innovation management process, which will help your organization to put it all together as one process.

Setting the goals for the process

Innovation always begins with a goal in mind. It is many times based on finding the solution to a problem. Once you have this goal, it should be discussed among everyone in the problem solving team. This team may consist of you and another person, a group of people, or may even be all of your organization’s employees. It may involve others such as your customers (who can provide suggestions and feedback based on their own experience with your product or service) or other stakeholders in the business. When you establish the team for this process, make sure that you have someone representing all the parts of the process from start to the end.


The innovation team should work together so that instead of trying to come up with an idea separately, they can bounce ideas off one another and create a collaborative solution. This can include the use of online tools, attendance of events such as trade shows that can be inspiring and informative, or simply consist of brainstorming sessions. You might  consider having a trained business coach facilitating the discussions. There are many online tools available for real-time document sharing that might help teams that are geographically separated to still have intense cooperation.

Combination of ideas

Once the ideas are in, choose the best ones and then consider whether they can be combined to create an even greater idea. Often, strong ideas will be complementary to one another and will join well to create an even better result. As you know, the whole result can be bigger than its individual parts. And for this combination to work well, you need representatives of all parties involved in the process, because they for sure have ideas that people from other departments could not come up with. Business coaches may be useful here for making sure that all the angles of innovative aspect are covered.

Evaluation of innovation

This is an important and yet all too frequently overlooked aspect of the innovation management process. When the best ideas have been combined, fine-tuned, and polished, it is time to subject them to evaluation based on peer reviews. This helps to ensure that any ideas that have a promising veneer but that are poorly thought out will be identified before resources, funding and time have been poured into them. It also helps to select the ideas with the greatest potential from among several that appear equally capable of being successful. It is cheap to change your innovation at this stage compared to later stages. Each step you take forward will cost you more…

Testing the ideas

Once the ideas with the greatest potential have been identified, they can be tested so that they can be better developed. One of the most common means of testing a product or service idea is to create a prototype or test group. This allows the team, as well as customers and investors to have a better look at how the product will function and what changes can be made to it so that it will be even further improved. Make sure that the product or service not only raises interest but is able to generate orders also. If people say that they are interested in it, then ask them if they give you the order right away.

Execution of innovation implementation

The ideas that survive the testing process can be further developed and altered until they are ready to be executed as a part of the business offerings. The execution of implementation is a step that is unique to your business and, unless your new product causes you to have to drastically alter the typical way that your go-to-market strategy functions, then this part of the innovation management process should be relatively commonplace in your organization. It should be easier for you to move from testing to execution if you were able to generate orders already in testing phase.

Assessment of innovation life-cycle

After the execution of an idea, its implementation needs to be carefully monitored and assessed in terms of a number of milestones that should be set. Should a milestone not be reached, then changes will need to be made or the idea will need to be shut down. Remember to keep always customer in your mind also in execution phase and design your measuring systems so that they measure added value for the customer (you get what you measure and customers weight you based on that!).


The next step in the process is simply to start again, always finding new needs, inspiration, solutions and taking them through the cycle until they can be offered by your company. Here are some reflective questions that you can use to evaluate innovation management process in your organization:

  • Do you have a clearly defined innovation management process?
    • If yes, is it effective?
    • If no, how do you see that clearly defined innovation management process could help your organization to achieve goals better?
  • Are all the people in your organization working together towards great innovations or do they do things on their own?
  • Do you always properly evaluate and test your innovations before taking them to market?
  • Do you measure execution of providing services or products from customer’s perspective?
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By Janne Ohtonen @ For a FREE process leadership book - CLICK HERE | May 22, 2012

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