Do we need clearly defined innovation processes? And what should they look like?

Many companies do not distin­guish suffi­ci­ently between innovation processes and product develo­pment processes, such as pre-develo­pment. As a result, they limit their capability to innovate as well as their future-viability while at the same time generating internal conflicts. In this article, we would like to point out the importance of clearly defined and tailor-made innovation processes, and provide guidance on appro­priate proce­dural approaches as a function of the innovation level and the innovation momentum of innovation propo­si­tions.

By Friedhelm Boettcher und Karl-Michael Schumann

Innovation can be a very complex under­taking and often not successful at that. In many cases, this can be attri­buted to an insuf­fi­ci­ently developed innovation culture in combi­nation with inade­quate, limited or even lacking syste­matic innovation management:

  • The processes and proce­dural models for the develo­pment of innova­tions are not clearly enough defined and are often not adequately managed. This situation is often encoun­tered when the innovation propo­sition does not match the company’s previous fields of experience or activities.
  • The innovation project management processes do not match the desired or necessary level of innovation and the innovation momentum required for market success.
  • There is a low or under­de­ve­loped capability or desire to act proac­tively and to respond quickly to changes in the business environment.

This has the conse­quence that …

  • … decision-makers lack the necessary confi­dence and decisions are not taken at all, half-heartedly or too late,
  • … innovation projects are not resourced adequately due to the competing requi­re­ments of the day-to-day business. The company’s various compe­tencies cannot be suffi­ci­ently integrated into the innovation projects, which leads to a waste of resources,
  • … the most innovative employees are demoti­vated and leave the company. The challenge to “innovate” is “scorched”, and the company’s ability to change and improve is damaged for a long time.

In order to prevent this, companies have to deal more inten­sively with the confi­gu­ration of their innovation system, and build coherent innovation archi­tec­tures[1].

Figure 1: An innovation archi­tecture as the basis for agile innovation management

What is an “innovation process”?

The integrated opera­tional innovation process from finding ideas to innovation success is a crucial segment of the innovation archi­tecture. We define the term “innovation process” here as a coherent set of activities and decisions to generate specific contri­bu­tions that are necessary to success­fully realize innova­tions. All individual contri­bu­tions must meet defined success criteria.

With that said, four opera­tional elements of the innovation process can be distin­guished:

  1. The Front-End of Innovation (FEI): The develo­pment of innovation ideas and concepts
  2. The Back-End of Innovation (BEI): The develo­pment of offers and services to market maturity
  3. Go-To-Market (GtM): The execution of the launch plan to launch and disse­minate the offer or service in a market or to generate a new market.
  4. Customer Feed Back and Integration: The coöpe­ration with customers to develop a conti­nually advancing under­standing of the conse­quences of the purchased offer or service on the customers’ side, and to start a new innovation cycle.

The four elements differ funda­mentally in terms of (a) their achie­ve­ments, (b) their starting points, © their characters, (d) their proce­dural and struc­tural charac­te­ri­stics, and the compe­tences necessary to success­fully carry out the respective activities. The clear and syste­matic diffe­ren­tiation of the four elements is important because each one provides a parti­cular, irreplaceable contri­bution to successful innovation. The experience of decades of innovation management (and more recently of design thinking) shows, for example, that top results from the “front-end” cannot be achieved by simple standard “back-end” activities and vice versa. Only the coördi­nated interplay of all four elements leads to top innovation process results.

In this article we would first like to focus on the definition and inter­action of the front-end and back-end of innovation

What do we mean by “front-end” and “back-end” of innovation, and why is this distinction important?

“Front-end” activities generate a (preli­minary, first) business case with a new product/service concept or a new business model that represent options for new innova­tions. These deliver­ables enable qualified management decisions on the investment of funds and resources to start a new back-end develo­pment project, and to assess the impact of these decisions on the value and balance of the company’s innovation project portfolio.

“Back-end” activities generate marketable product/service offerings and/or business models that can be produced and sold or executed, respec­tively. The “back-end” activities are completed when “readiness” to enter the market is achieved. In addition to the ability to deliver the offering to the customer, this includes all technical and opera­tional factors, including trade struc­tures, financing and compliance with regula­tions. The management can make qualified “go-to-market” decisions on the basis of completion reports relating to all the readiness elements mentioned. An innovation might “go-to-market” at full power, or through a step-by-step market entry that builds up a learning relati­onship in coöpe­ration with the first customers.

The “Front-End” activities create the basis for the “Back-End” activities and thus precede them “logically”. The results of the front-end determine what is to be developed and what is to be invested in. In practice, however, front-end and back-end can sometimes run (at least partly) in parallel. This can happen, for example, when knowledge obtained early in the front-end already enables certain investment decisions for back-end activities, or when first front-end “prototype” products or services can or should be sold to early adopters as minimal viable products (MVP) for gathering in-market knowledge and for starting market creation.

Table 1: The key charac­te­ri­stics distin­guishing front-end and back-end of innovation

There is not only one innovation process

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution in the design of the innovation processes for all kinds of innova­tions or businesses. The successful processing of innovation propo­si­tions presup­poses that a) the innovation process approach is in line with the desired innovation level[2] and the expected innovation momentum of the innovation propo­sition[3], b) the proximity to the core compe­tence of the company is taken into account, and c) an effective management of the innovation activities is enabled. Depending on each one of these factors,

  • different types of innovation decisions must be made, and different ways of getting to these decisions must be used,
  • different framework condi­tions, and different proce­dural models must be made available,
  • different innovation methods and tools must be used to develop the innovation propo­si­tions.

The precise design of the innovation processes depends on the specific condi­tions and needs of the individual companies. For orien­tation, generic processes for typical innovation levels, innovation momentums, and proximity to the core compe­tence of the companies are described below (see Figure 2).

INNVOVATION PROCESSES

Figure 2: Depending on the innovation level, innovation momentum and proximity to the core compe­tence of the companies, three different generic approaches can be distin­guished in the front-end as well as the back-end of innovation.

Generic Front-End-Processes

a) Embryonic FEI

Oppor­tu­nities for innovative offers are identified and selected using simple methods for idea finding and idea management. Selected ideas are further “incubated” and passed on to a standard back-end product develo­pment process (PDP) on the basis of requi­rement catalogs.

b) Mixed FEI

A mixed FEI process is typically used whenever a simple transfer of an idea out of an embryonic FEI on to a standard-PDP is not suitable. This can occur when an idea requires peculiar feasi­bility assess­ments, functioning proto­types for testing or solutions of difficult technical problems. In all of these circum­stances it is desired to reduce the risks of product develo­pment related to financial and staffing resources, and to build up technical or commercial knowledge. In many cases the mixed-FEI will also conduct advanced syste­matic analyses of markets, products and techno­logies, often coupled with Roadmapping and Scenario Analysis. In many companies, a so-called „advance develo­pment“ represents the mixed FEI. The results of this mixed-FEI process are trans­ferred to a standard-PDP or a Stage-and-Gate back-end process. In some cases there is also a close exchange with a Syste­matic-FEI possible.

c) Syste­matic FEI

In a Syste­matic FEI, new innovation oppor­tu­nities, ideas and concepts for innovative offers and business models are syste­ma­ti­cally and conti­nuously searched for and developed in such a way that they can be success­fully realized via subse­quent back-end processes (see Fig. 3). This FEI process includes advanced analyses of the environment with Strategic Foresight, focused Market Construction to identify new innovation oppor­tu­nities, syste­matic idea generation, and develo­pment of ideas into concepts of offerings, business models and business cases by using proce­dural approaches that oscillate between diverging creative and converging analy­tical processes. The Syste­matic FEI is primarily used when disruptive innova­tions or new business models are sought outside the tradi­tional experience and core compe­tence of the companies. The focus here is on generating new knowledge about the needs and behaviors of customers in new markets or for completely new appli­ca­tions, about future markets and the develo­pment of innovative service offerings. Learning about minimal viable products in connection with the parallel develo­pment of market entry strategies is of great importance here. Results from the Syste­matic FEI can be trans­ferred to all back-end processes, depending on their charac­te­ri­stics. In general the Syste­matic FEI will transfer its results to an Agile Stage-and-Gate PDP or to an Agile Innovation Circle.

Figure 3: An agile front-end of innovation process model — modular, iterative and commu­tative

Generic Back-End-Processes

a) Standard product develo­pment processes (Standard — PDPs)

An improved product or service offer (also as a variant or as a conven­tional product adapt­ation) is syste­ma­ti­cally developed based on a customer request or sales inquiry or based on results of the classical idea management. The technology and process principles to be used are clear but still need to be adapted to the intended properties of the product. The realiz­ation of the concept takes place in a standar­dized product develo­pment process (PDP) with clearly defined documents, decision points, and criteria for approvals. Line managers respon­sible within the develo­pment process can make decisions fast and non-bureau­cra­ti­cally. The risk of using resources for unsuc­cessful develo­pment projects is estimated to be low. Therefore, resources for the entire project can be released at the start of the project.

b) Agile Stage-and-Gate processes

The starting point here is a “project charter” as a transfer document from idea management or from the syste­matic develo­pment of a business idea, e.g. via an FEI (partly including ”advance develo­pment”). The trans­for­mation of the offering concept or the business model to market maturity takes place within the framework of a defined Stage-and- Gate process. The decision points for step-by-step invest­ments of financial and human resources into the project and the deliver­ables for each stage are clearly defined or definable. The decision criteria and the decision-makers to be involved are named in advance, depending on the task at hand. The risk of using resources for less or not at all successful develo­pment projects is estimated to be higher. Therefore, the release of resources for a project only takes place step by step as a “gate” decision after successful completion of a develo­pment “stage”.

c) Agile Innovation Circle Processes

Innovative offers or business ideas are imple­mented in an agile innovation circle when the develo­pment of the offer and the market are still in a very early phase and no standard organiz­a­tional struc­tures exist for their imple­men­tation. The learning process that started in the Syste­matic FEI is continued under start-up condi­tions. Organiz­a­tional struc­tures are being set up in parallel to the develo­pment of the offerings or business model and to their market penetration. The risk of the (possibly unpro­fi­table) use of resources for a start-up lies primarily with the investor in addition to the innovator. In this sense, an “investor” can also be an estab­lished company that assumes this “startup investor” role in an internal relati­onship with an internal develo­pment project and the developers respon­sible for it.

Table 2: Evaluation criteria for assigning innovation projects to the different process models in the front-end and back-end of innovation.

The allocation of projects to the appro­priate FEI and BEI process model is based on criteria such as:
a) the expected innovation level, b) the expected innovation momentum, and c) the proximity to the company’s core compe­tence. A summary of an initial guidance for using these criteria can be found in Table 2.
The correct allocation of each one of the innovation propo­si­tions to the best suited innovation processes is one element of an active risk management approach that aims to signi­fi­cantly increase the proba­bility of commercial success of the entire innovation portfolio. The assignment of the individual innovation projects in the portfolio to a process model must be constantly reviewed and adapted. As a conse­quence, companies can and must master all process models described here. The number of projects processed in the different types of front-end and back-end processes is company-specific and is strongly deter­mined by decisions made, for example, in the strategic elements of the innovation archi­tecture.

Which inter­pre­tation of the term “process” is the basis of the innovation process?

In a business context, a “process” is inter­preted as a creation chain in which a commercial goal is achieved by a direc­tional sequence of activities, and the use of defined instru­ments and methods. The flow path of innovation processes, however, differs from this conven­tional inter­pre­tation of processes, even though there is a “logical” direction and sequence of activities in each one of the specific elements of the innovation process. The innovation process is largely a learning process, which generates new knowledge about (internal and external) customer needs, about oppor­tu­nities to satisfy these needs, and about ways of technical and organiz­a­tional imple­men­tation. This learning process is strictly non-linear, i.e. innovation activities are not necessarily carried out in the pre-defined “logical” order, but in an order that builds on — and responds to the needs of — the conti­nuous acqui­sition of knowledge. For example, it might be necessary and important a) to process in parallel certain activities that are far distant to each other in the “logical” sequence of activities, b) to run through work packages repeatedly in iterative process circles, or c) to jump forward or backwards in the logical chain of activities[4].

This special character of innovation processes challenges the skills of innovation managers, and demands a high degree of agility with regard to the design of work packages of the opera­tional processes, the decision-making processes and the operation of the company as a whole. These parti­cular topics, including the estab­lishment of the right innovation teams and the design of coöpe­ration proce­dures in innovation processes, will be dealt with in later publi­ca­tions, depending on the course of the comments and discus­sions on this article.

In summary: To manage innovation more success­fully, different innovation processes have to be applied depending on the innovation level and momentum of innovation propo­si­tions. There is no off-the-peg procedure. The good news is: There are evaluation criteria for innovation projects which can be used to determine how the innovation processes in the front and back end must be confi­gured. The right choice will have a profound positive impact on the success of innovation propo­si­tions.

Notes

[1] A more detailed discussion of the innovation archi­tecture is found in our article on https://boettcher-consulting.de/lost-in-innovation.

[2] We define “innovation level” as the degree of positive change that is caused by an innovation propo­sition, judged from the point of view of the user. The parameters to judge this change could be a) the impact on the user experience, b) the new habits enabled, or c) the broadness (i.e. how many users experience it) of the change.

[3] The term “innovation momentum” describes the temporal progress of innovation propo­si­tions including both their develo­pment and their diffusion. The parameters to judge this progress could be a) the pace and the changes of the pace, b) the frequency, c) the intensity (e.g. required necessity, resources, attention, relative signi­fi­cance) of the temporal progress of innovation.

[4] Due to the high levels of ambiguity and uncer­tainty of innovation projects, some organiz­a­tions assume that precise defini­tions and descrip­tions of innovation processes in enter­prises are not meaningful. However, in our many years as innovators, innovation managers, and business consul­tants we have realized that clearly defined and described, yet non-linear innovation processes provide an indis­pen­sible navigation system. This navigation system reveals the stadium of an innovation propo­sition, which activities need to be processed, the way the learning process progresses, and which management decisions need to be made.

Credential: iStock/photo­techno

Lost in Innovation?

Building Innovation Excel­lence

Innovation is like a jungle full of oppor­tu­nities and promising market places but also of risks, complexity and highly agile predators. No wonder, many companies struggle to navigate this universe towards innovation success and sustainable future growth. In the following, the authors want to give an outline of a best practice-based ‘Innovation Archi­tecture’ as an adaptable framework for an agile management of innovation. By Karl-Michael Schumann and Michael Riedemann.

Can we thrive in the jungle?

The approach described in this article is designed as an agile and flexible innovation management reference framework to provide orien­tation by identi­fying the positions and distin­guishing the specific characters of ten different innovation elements as well as their relati­onships to each other. This “Innovation Archi­tecture” should help you navigate innovation complexity, boost innovation produc­tivity, and create real added value for you and your customers.

A.G. Lafley, former Chairman and Chief Executive of Procter & Gamble, has pointed out more than a decade ago: “Innovation is a prere­quisite for sustainable growth. No other path to profi­table growth can be sustained over time. Without continual innovation, markets stagnate, products become commo­dities, and margins shrink”[1]. Today, and given the ever-accele­rating develo­p­ments driven by digitiz­ation and trans­for­mative change, it has almost become a common­place that companies and organiz­a­tions need to develop the capability to innovate perma­nently and predic­tably if they want to stay ahead of their compe­tition, or even just survive in the future.

On one hand, many companies report diffi­culties in turning innovation invest­ments into the expected return value. And, many of them deal with rather challenging periods of time-to-value. Success rates of innovation efforts for improving existing offerings are claimed to be just over 50%, and for creating new offerings on average even less than 5%[2].

On the other hand, it has long been known that the excep­tional perfor­mance of innovation leaders in conti­nually developing and profi­table selling new offerings is no accident. It is the result of a disci­plined, syste­matic approach based on current best and newly developed practices[3]. At the root of innovation leaders’ success is, among others, an integrative and guiding framework to help focus on vital success factors. These are, for example, a well-founded innovation strategy, a solid idea-to-launch process, a highly focused portfolio management, and an agile, innovation-friendly cultural climate.[4] Innovation success, as it seems, doesn’t happen by a “stroke of genius”. It is rather based on an elaborate, syste­matic and integrated innovation approach.

With that said, the diffi­culties in innovating conti­nually and success­fully seem to root in a lack of conceptual guidance, focused strategic approaches, and agile processes. We often observe enter­prises using arbitrary, discon­nected innovation processes and methods. Many of them deploy multiple, non-syner­gistic approaches of mastering the – perceived ‘fuzzy’ – Front-End of Innovation with ideation, idea incubation, selection, and execution. Furthermore, we see various incom­plete or overly complex forms of stages and gates for managing the develo­pment of physical products or service offerings. Very few of those organiz­a­tions use some forms of portfolio and road map management — quite often simply derived from innovation software tools.

In this context, questions arise such as: Is there a more general framework suitable for developing new business models, processes, and products in tomorrow’s digital world? Is there any approach going far beyond the task of developing new b2c or b2b products in yesterday’s analogue world? What would be the key elements of such a framework?

Meeting the unmet

Innovation processes are highly complex having high risks and uncertain outcomes. Global management surveys[5] show the diffi­culties of companies to identify the true unmet needs of their customers, bridge innovation gaps and gain ROI from investment in innovative business models, products and techno­logies. Here, a syste­matic and holistic approach can turn out to be priceless, helping us develop and implement an agile and coherent Innovation Archi­tecture. Order is no enemy of innovation and agility if the system consists of adaptable, well-matched modules, sub-modules, methods and tools that help to manage the most important aspects of innovation in an integrated way.

The modular archi­tec­tural approach drives innovation based on business and corporate strategies. It is designed to further improve an enterprise’s existing innovation capabi­lities and strengths as well as to address existing innovation gaps and weaknesses. Due to its agility, adapta­bility and respon­si­veness to change, it allows commu­tative and iterative ways of operation. Organiz­a­tions can focus resources on paramount and most pressing innovation issues and tasks at hand.

Experience often confirms that well organized, compre­hensive, syste­matic innovation frame­works form strong backbones of agile organiz­a­tions. They enable organiz­a­tions to reliably adapt to changes, and signi­fi­cantly innovate on a permanent basis with a high rate of success.

Now let’s have a closer look at our proven and best practice-based Innovation Archi­tecture. In general, it consist of ten modular key elements which are divided in three main categories:

I “Strategic Decisions” 1. Innovation Strategy
2. Strategic Innovation Capabi­lities
3. Strategic Portfolios & Roadmaps
II “Opera­tional Processes” 4. Front-End of Innovation
5. Back-End of Innovation
6. Go-To-Market
7. Customer Integration
III “Founda­tional Elements” 8. Innovation Culture
9. Organiz­a­tional Structure
10. Individual Innovation Skills

The seven Elements of the first two categories – “Strategic Decisions” and “Opera­tional Processes” – operate in concert like well-tuned clock­works. The three elements of the third category “Founda­tional Elements” are required “basics” to enable enter­prises to run the seven-elements clockwork above in an effective and efficient manner.

Here, it is important to distin­guish these ten elements carefully. Each one of them provides specific deliver­ables and is managed by a specific set of methods and tools. However, these ten key elements do not operate as isolated silos. On the contrary, all of them conti­nually corre­spond with each other, providing mutual input and capita­lizing on each other’s output. It is also important to under­stand, that the ten elements do not operate bureau­cra­ti­cally in a specific conse­cutive order. They typically work conti­nuously in parallel, although with different degrees of intensity – depending on the innovation needs and capabi­lities of the enter­prise at a given point in time.

On top of that, each one of these ten modular elements comprises a number of separate, integrated sub-modules. Together, these modules and sub-modules help to syste­ma­ti­cally manage innovation conti­nually from end-to-end, as well as to facilitate agile leadership control, opera­tional certainty, and organiz­a­tional capability.

Reaping the fruits

Once imple­mented in companies or organiz­a­tions, the framework of the Innovation Archi­tecture shows immediate benefits for top leaders charged with managing innovation. In general, there are three major benefits:

First: Enhanced Agile Leadership Control
Many Execu­tives for the first time get access to an integrated framework for effec­tively navigating and steering a multi­plicity of business, product, service, and technology innovation initia­tives. Our approach enables them to much better transform or advance their organiz­a­tions’ innovation culture and behavior, based on a unified under­standing of what is needed and desired. The framework provides them with a syner­gistic set of struc­tures, processes, metho­do­logies and tools that help them address innovation objec­tives and goals, and execute their innovation strategies and measures in an agile, and highly effective manner.

Second: Increased Opera­tional Certainty
The core principles, concepts and proce­dures of the Innovation Archi­tecture will foster organiz­a­tional alignment. Such a common innovation framework and language throughout the enter­prise will help eliminate or reduce friction and ineffi­ci­encies caused by multiple inter­pre­ta­tions of goals and strategies. The framework provides guidance through signposts that make it easier for managers to set or change direction as needed during the course of innovation initia­tives.

Third: Improved Organiz­a­tional Capability
Every strate­gi­cally relevant innovation portfolio and roadmap insight that results from the appli­cation of our Innovation Archi­tecture will boost the enterprise’s innovation quality and deliver faster and more profi­table growth. It will also help engage all business functions (beyond marketing, technology and product develo­pment) in the enterprise’s innovation activities, and provide stronger support to indivi­duals who lead innovation initia­tives.

“Make us more innovative!” – Proven track records

Can we prove what we say? Here is an example of how the Innovation Archi­tecture presented here was used as a starting point for an enter­prise-specific integrated innovation management system. From the very beginning, this activity was designed to help one of the authors’ client to overcome innovation barriers and expand their organiz­a­tional capability. In this case, the New Business Develo­pment plans of a global supplier of key components to the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry had suffered from misalign­ments and lack of colla­bo­ration between regions and functions after a series of acqui­si­tions. Furthermore, the organiz­ation had figured out its Portfolio Management as well as its Back-End Innovation processes did not work effec­tively, leading to budget and resources ineffi­ci­encies. The task was now to enable them to move these critical business processes to a higher level of effec­ti­veness on a global scale, as well as to further strengthen their compe­titive advan­tages and grow sales.

To achieve these goals, we worked with the company to first under­stand existing barriers to effective colla­bo­ration and innovation management. Once these were under­stood, we designed a 24-month develo­pment and imple­men­tation plan for a custom-made management approach, based on our integrated “Innovation Archi­tecture”. It contained a …

  • … new Innovation Strategy applying the OGSM principles (Objec­tives, Goals, Strategies and Measures)
  • … novel framework for strategic and tactical Portfolio and Roadmap Management
  • … Back-End and Technical Capability Develo­pment approaches. The specific choices here were highly efficient Stage-and-Gate and Fast-Track decision processes with strategic project kill-rates
  • … new Front-End of Innovation (FEI) program to feed the Back-End with concepts of new offerings and  with the related Project Charters.

All these choices were specific to the innovation needs and capabi­lities of the company. In other cases we might have designed more start-up-like processes, were Front-End, Back-End, and Go-to-Market processes are more tightly integrated.

As the program advanced, we delivered detailed templates for the key innovation system modules the client had chosen to implement. Only after 12 months of imple­men­tation, sales was growing twice as fast as the market, with doubled cash flow from opera­tions.

Authors’ note

This article should only provide a first intro­duction into how companies and organiz­a­tions can overcome barriers to innovation by using a well-wrought and proven framework to enable sustainable future growth. Given the complexity of the matter and issues involved, it aims only to trigger further coöpe­ration and discourse. For everyone interested in more details on this matter, the future_bizz network’s management team will provide a series of articles on each of these modules and sub-modules on the future_bizz web platform. The publi­ca­tions will give insights into how these key elements and aspects like a highly agile FEI work together creating value for companies and organiz­a­tions. In the meantime, the authors look forward to receiving your feedback on the approach presented here. We would also be happy to discuss these issues with you in person. Please free to contact us any time at future_bizz.

[1] „Succeed at New Product Develo­pment the P&G way: A key element is using the „Innovation Diamond“, in: PDMA Visions, VOL. XXIX NO. 4, page 12.

[2] Tony Ulwick, Two Prere­qui­sites for a Successful Innovation Management Strategy, https://strategyn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/innovation-management-strategy.jpg

[3] https://innovationleaders.org/media/Innovation-Leaders-Book-2008.pdf

[4] See „Succeed at New Product Develo­pment the P&G way”, pp. 9 – 13.

[5] See e.g. Innovation and commer­cia­liz­ation, 2010: McKinsey Global Survey results: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/innovation-and-commercialization-2010-mckinsey-global-survey-results

‘Digital living — what companies need to prepare for

The digital world is changing the way customers research, order and pay for products and services – as well as how they give feedback on their “customer journey”. These increased possi­bi­lities lead to growing demands on services and products. Conse­quently, companies have to adjust their business models and respond to the develo­p­ments.

Over the next months, the future think tank and its members will jointly gain important insights into and develop means of guidance. Here, it is our goal to better under­stand how people are changing the way they think, commu­nicate, behave and consume. In addition, we want to learn more about how companies can cope with digital life models and lifestyles, what happens when customers parti­cipate in shaping products and processes, as well as the oppor­tu­nities and risks coming along with these develo­p­ments. Other topics areas address issues of cyber security and psychology in the inter­action of humans and machines.

Follow us on Future_bizz | Digital Living

“Front End of Innovation” – with agility towards innovation excel­lence

How can companies master innovation instead of becoming obsolete? For this, we developed a reference model. It supports navigation in the “Font End of Innovation”, while at the same time providing access to a compre­hensive set of methods.

This is important, because it is not possible to work in a linear and strictly process-oriented manner in the early innovation phase. It is rather vital to take heed of the fact that the starting point depends on the individual task, the starting condi­tions and the degree of maturity of the idea. With this said, it is generally necessary to pass through the process several times. In this context it is not only allowed but necessary to skip forward and back. It is rather difficult to track results gained in the early innovation phase. This is especially the case when it is about to create services and business models that signi­fi­cantly differ from the companies’ core skills and capabi­lities. Mostly, there is a lack of appro­priate follow-up processes and the Stage&Gate product develo­pment process is not designed for such tasks. Here metho­dical questions are, however, not the biggest issues when it comes to continue to proceed with the projects. It is rather factors like corporate culture and decision-making processes that slow down the innovation process. As a conse­quence, we have to expand the FEI model and increase the business agility of the company.