Michal Sobotkiewicz
Michal SobotkiewiczKANBO PRODUCT OWNER
He leads the KanBo Technology & Innovation strategy team to map, build and inspire a future we want to work in.

For innovation to be managed successfully in an enterprise organization, there must be a culture that encourages it. In order to successfully lead innovation in enterprise business, the right tools and methods are needed.

This article will take a deep dive into innovation management by helping you assess if your organization is ready for innovation, suggesting tools and methods and providing KanBo’s innovation management framework.

Here we describe how to use tools and methods such as:

  • Knowledge management
  • Collaboration and networking
  • Creativity Techniques
  • Process improvement techniques
  • Project management techniques
  • Business Creation

There is also a ready to use free KanBo Innovation Framework, which consists of 5 levels of Innovation Development in Enterprises:

  • Idea identification
  • Concept validation
  • Demonstration development plan (birth of the MVP)
  • Customer value validation
  • Growth plan – commitment to commercialize

There should be a clear understanding of the importance of collective growth and an openness to learn and experiment in the face of failure. The acceptance of failure as a natural stage in the process of creating innovation is important for organization’s to be susceptible to change.

As industries get disrupted and the Enterprise business landscape becomes more competitive than ever, innovation management can keep your business afloat.

Dive into the world on innovation management with KanBo and learn how to manage innovations in business successfully.

Important for Innovation Manager – KanBo’s flexibility allows you to adapt them to your own organization’s unique needs.

Innovation management

In today’s fast paced modern world, we are always on the cusp of new discoveries and innovations that can disrupt and transform life as we know it. With everyone looking for the next big innovation, may it be in business or everyday life, the rate of innovation seems to be skyrocketing. With this rise in popularity of innovative practices, people are now talking about how this innovation can be managed and smartly utilized for the organization’s advantage.

There have been countless debates and narratives about what innovation management means. While in generic terms, innovation management involves coming up with new ideas and implementing them for the development of the organization – there can be many other ways to define it. Ultimately what matters is how your organization understands innovation and leverages it for growth. Whether it be changing the way your whole organization works, introducing new working methods or moving towards self-organizing teams, the possibilities for innovation are endless but managing them the right way is the ultimate key to success.

Best practices for Innovation Management in Enterprise Business

Before we delve into the frameworks and methods that drive innovation management, it is important to highlight how organizations can be optimized for innovation.

The nature and extent of innovation in an organization is dictated by a few important aspects. These aspects can help you decide if your organization is ready to foster innovation or not. These include:

Organizational culture

The culture of an organization should be directed towards learning and continuous improvement. Instead of ostracizing employees for their ideas, the organization needs to encourage them to partake in innovative activities without any fear. Other factors include trust, freedom and responsibility. Freedom in actions taken and, at the same time, responsibility for their effects and great trust & transparency at every level in the organization.

Illustration showing the conversation of two people

Organizational structure

The organizational structure can unlock the true potential of your employees’ capabilities by providing the means to implement their ideas. Without effective processes, communication channels and infrastructures, many innovative ideas would remain ideas. Rigid organizational structures can limit the growth of such ideas due to complex processes and long chains of command.

The structure of the organization should be flexible and easily adaptable to new ideas and changing circumstances. Innovation is all about swift experimentation, quick actions and fast decisions and you need an organizational structure that can keep up with all that. Most importantly, new approaches are needed for dealing with uncertainty and risk management without slowing down innovation.

Implementation possibilities

Beyond organizational culture and structure, every innovation needs appropriate resources and implementation possibilities. These include unique skills of individual employees, tacit knowledge or publicly available know-how of the organization, which can be used in completely new areas. At a certain stage there is also access to funding or capital. It is important that teams involved in the process of creating or managing innovations have the green signal to engage the necessary resources and thus have a constant ability to achieve the intended goal.

Strategy

Organizations must deliberate on the effectiveness of the strategy when it comes to innovation management and how it adds to the bigger picture. However, if innovation is not included in the company’s strategy, how else should it be implemented and developed in your organization? As you can see, the strategy is placed as the last aspect, but this is where innovation takes root!

The Big Questions

Now that you have analyzed the environment in your organization and adjusted it to be more favorable for the development and management of innovation, it is worth asking yourself a few questions. The answers will bring you closer to an effective innovation management strategy and the tools you need to execute it.

Here are some questions you can answer to get a better understanding of your existing processes:

  • Who is the process owned by?
  • Who can change the process?
  • What are the objectives of the process?
  • What success metrics are used to measure it?
  • Which customers is the process serving?
  • Who are the participants?
  • What kind of data and information is required for the process?
  • Which analytical tools drive the process?
  • What are the events and milestones associated?
  • What decisions does the process result in?
  • How are decisions made in the process?
  • How are decisions conveyed and communicated? Who receives this information?
  • What are the links to other management systems?

This concise list of questions can give you a 360-degree view of your company in the context of taking action for innovation. Once you have documented these for each process, you can involve the process participants and other key players to assess the processes and their impact.

Tools and Methods for Innovation Management

Diving into innovation management requires some knowledge of the rules of the new environment and techniques that will prevent you from sinking. Taking a look at the success stories of great innovators you will find how they navigated changing landscapes and foreign environments by learning about them and inventing new ways to succeed. To stay afloat in this rapidly changing world, organizations need to learn how to innovate better and fortunately there are countless tools and methods that can help you do so.

Here is an example of some of the tools and methods used for Innovation management:

1. Knowledge management

Organizations are often home to a rich repository of knowledge that can be crucial in their survival and success. But how many organizations know how to store, capture and harvest this knowledge for growth? Knowledge management allows your organization to build ways that collect, distribute and utilize knowledge effectively.

The illustration showing a network of people sharing knowledge

Not only can knowledge give organizations a competitive advantage, but it can also make innovation easier to implement. Innovation is closely interlinked with knowledge as without the correct information about processes, companies cannot introduce successful innovations to impact them. Some common knowledge management methods include:

Knowledge audit

Much like any other audit, a knowledge audit is an assessment of what information is captured by your organization and how it is being maintained. It is the first initiative towards building a knowledge management strategy.

Document management

Much of the knowledge in an organization exists in the form of documents. Document management in today’s world is mostly automated software through which documents are handled in the organization. The effective management of critical information in the form of documents can lead to better knowledge management practices.

Information management

Information is power and your organization may be receiving a large amount of information that is never utilized or collected. Information management involves collecting, distributing and further handling of all information in an organization.

2. Collaboration and networking

Illustration showing a man and a woman with a piece of puzzle

Collaboration and networking allow organizations to benefit from the collective expertise of their employees. This can play a pivotal role in innovation management as most revolutionary ideas are the amalgamation of many different perspectives and point of views. Organizations can boost collaboration in several different ways, here are a few examples:

Team building

The first step to implementing effective collaboration in an organization is team building. Team building starts with setting clear goals and then making individuals unite around those goals to achieve them more efficiently and more frequently. Many organizations indulge in various team building activities that encourage employees to improve interpersonal relations and build trust.

Teamwork

An organization consists of several different teams working together at all times. Fostering teamwork is an ongoing goal to make these teams more effective at collective growth and problem solving.

Self-organizing teams

With more interest towards agile methods of work, the concept of a team is also undergoing a drastic change. Taking a step away from traditional team structures, the self-organized team is an autonomous team that decides how to accomplish work without the need for any external guidance from a manager. Without a top down structure, each team member in the team is equally empowered and can learn and share knowledge with the other members. The close working nature also leads to better bonding opportunities and makes work more meaningful.

Agile

The complex and painstakingly slow processes of the past are now being replaced by the agility that is the demand of the modern world. Agile frameworks give self-organizing teams the freedom and flexibility to practice innovation.

3. Creativity Techniques

The illustration shows a man who is walking and holding a briefcase

Creativity drives innovation. How can you foster creative thinking and problem solving in your organization? Here are a few notable ways:

Brainstorming

is a common creative technique used by organizations around the world to share ideas and come up with innovative solutions. The act of sharing ideas in a group can bring multiple perspectives to the table, often unearthing incredible solutions.

Brainstorming inspired by Alex F. Osborn

Implement the revolutionary ideas of Advertising executive Alex F. Osborn with KanBo’s brainstorming template for creative problem-solving and ideation.

Mind mapping

with information coming at us from all ends, our brain often has difficulty comprehending and making sense of it – sometimes missing answers that are right in front of us. Mind maps are a creative method of representing the information in the form of a map that closely resembles how your brain makes connections. Organizations can use this as a tool to encourage creative thinking and problem solving in employees.

TRIZ 40

consists of the 40 principles used with a contradiction matrix to solve complex engineering problems and come up with innovative solutions.

Google Design Thinking

promotes empathy, expansive thinking and experimentation to unlock the creativity of each individual and build a culture of innovation.

4. Process improvement techniques

Illustration showing a man and a woman with a planner notepad

Processes dictate everything in an organization and optimizing them for growth and innovation is an essential part of innovation management. Here are a few ways in which organizations streamline their processes:

Benchmarking

In order to improve processes, companies evaluate their effectiveness through benchmarking. Benchmarking is a technique that compares the performance of business processes against set benchmarks that are the industry’s best practices. Through benchmarking, businesses can gauge the effectiveness of the process in dimensions such as time, quality, cost and more.

Kanban

allows organizations to manage and visualize their processes and projects. It is a management tool that helps agile organizations in process management.

Process re-engineering

allows businesses to redesign and optimize the way work is done to meet some performance criteria such as cost.

Kaizen

means Continuous Improvement and true to its name, it is a strategy that empowers all employees at every level to improve regularly. Kaizen is a manufacturing methodology that combines various talents within the organization to create a powerful and unified workforce that improves continuously.

Kaizen PDCA

Focus on areas of improvement with KanBo’s PDCA Kaizen template. Build plans, set goals, analyze facts, implement solutions and more with the 4 stage (Plan, Do, Check, Action) Kaizen model.

Lean

manufacturing or lean is a set of tools and processes with the goal of eliminating all waste from business processes. This results in a lean business process that boosts efficiency and overall profit.

5. Project management techniques

Businesses rely on many techniques to manage their large number of projects. Here are a few of them:

Project management

is used by businesses during the entire lifecycle of a project. From the initial planning phase to the execution, project management is used to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and all the goals are met.

Project portfolio management

refers to a process used by project managers and project management organizations (PMOs) to analyze the potential return on undertaking a project. By organizing and consolidating every piece of data regarding proposed and current projects, project portfolio managers provide forecasting and business analysis for companies looking to invest in new projects.

Scrum

Scrum is a framework originating from agile processes. It is used for project management in agile environments through sprints and other components.

SCRUM Planning

KanBo’s SCRUM planning template generates an agenda, defines sprint goals, milestones, tasks & backlog to make development teams more efficient.

6. Business Creation

Business creation consists of processes that turn an idea into a business. Here are some tools used for business creation:

Business Road Map

is required by businesses in the initial stages of business creation to define the direction they want to take it and how it will reach that destination. The roadmap is used to visualize business growth over a time period and is necessary for the future success of the business.

Business Roadmap

Build a business roadmap with goals & milestones, and communicate your company’s or product’s vision. This template features timeline, Gantt chart and Kanban view and other useful functionality.

Business Simulation

is a learning experience that provides an overview of the organization without any actual implementation. Since it is a simulation, it reduces risk and has a lot of room for innovation.

Business Plan

is a document that contains information from finances and marketing strategy to the profit and loss statement. It summarizes the operational and financial objectives of a business and contains the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.

Many of these tools and methods must be familiar to you in your organization. That means, you are already on your way to implementing innovation management.

Despite popular belief, Innovation does not immediately mean turning everything upside down. It is a well-known saying that need is the mother of invention. Most innovations that make life easier today were once created out of need or even desperation. As an example, the air conditioner (AC) was created to maintain a constant temperature inside printing houses for the ink to dry properly.

Using existing practices that have contributed to innovation in other teams is a good start. However, what works for others might not work for you as each organization differs in its structure, culture, implementation and strategy.

Enter the world of KanBo

Now that you have created an image of your organization in terms of its innovation management capabilities, answered pressing questions about how innovation is handled and explored some tools and methods that are used in the process, you are ready to be introduced to KanBo’s innovation management framework.

But first, here is a little look at KanBo and how it works.

KanBo Manifesto

KanBo empowers purpose driven organizations to optimize work management with full transparency and trust so people can work the way they were truly meant to – purposeful and perfectly connected.

Our Beliefs

At KanBo, we firmly believe in the power of trust and the role it plays for the success of an organization. With trust, you can promote transparency and spark the passion for a greater purpose within the hearts of your people.

Our Principles

KanBo redefines what work is all about by questioning the State of the Art and taking myths apart. KanBo aspires to help you realize the most important aspects of work, filter the unnecessary, and simplify work management.

Changing the Way, you Work

Think back to the last time you were so deeply consumed by the passion for your work that time just flew by. Recall the pleasant feeling of believing that your work is meaningful and how the work flowed through you almost effortlessly. That’s what working together should be like. KanBo aspires to transform work into something bigger, better and more meaningful.

The Origins of KanBo

The story of KanBo began while figuring out the perfect work management environment for our company. We felt that something was truly lacking from the equation and that is when KanBo came into being. First intended as an internal system for our company, KanBo has now grown into something far bigger and better than we could ever have imagined.

KanBo is a place where everything from the most immediate details to the big picture is organized. With KanBo, each person knows what they should be doing and why. This clarity, transparency, and focus allow people to organize and collaborate with less friction and deliver purposeful work.

KanBo’s Innovation Management Framework

KanBo’s Innovation Management Framework is a set of tools and good practices that we have compiled to make innovation management easier to implement inside of organizations. The templates are easy to use and the perfect inspiration for you to create your own boards to add your organization’s special touch to it.

This model has been created with the values and goals that KanBo sets every day. KanBo brings them closer to you, so that you can utilize the framework to practice innovation in your own organization.

1.    Idea identification

This is the point where ideas are born and created – the starting point of innovation. Ideas often appear quickly and disappear just as fast. The key is to capture them immediately and easily in a board that is the digital equivalent of a sheet of paper. Ideas are not tested, evaluated or verified at this stage, only captured for the later stages. KanBo consists of templates and boards that you can utilize to swiftly capture ideas:

2. Concept validation

In the next stage the submitted ideas are analyzed for the possibility of further development. This is done through conceptual and theoretical activities that are meant to analyze the ideas in dedicated interdisciplinary teams. Depending on the type of idea, here are some of the templates and boards in KanBo that can facilitate concept validation:

The size, scale and impact of the idea dictate how it should be verified. By the end of this step, you will be able to narrow down the ideas fit for execution.

3. Demonstration development plan (birth of the MVP)

This is the step where your ideas start taking shape. The previous stages helped you describe and validate the idea, now you can use that information and build up on it to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or a development plan. An effective MVP presents the innovation very quickly and allows for its further development based on a clearly defined action plan. Here are some KanBo templates that will prove to be useful for this step:

4. Customer value validation

Once you have created an MVP, it is time to introduce the customer into the process. In this stage, you will collect feedback, create surveys, and prepare questionnaires to get validation from the customer or if it is internal – your employees. At this stage, it is important to know how the target group interacts with the presented innovation.

This is a very critical stage that will play an important role in the success or failure of the innovation. Hence, as many lessons and conclusions as possible should be drawn from this stage. In order to efficiently collect the first impressions after customer interaction, we have prepared a set of board  templates that can be used or may inspire you to create your own.

  • Customer feedback
  • Customer testimonials
  • Customer success management
  • Customer Satisfaction form and analysis
  • Case Study Questionnaire
  • User research

5. Growth plan – commitment to commercialize

You have finally reached the last stage at which your innovation is ready to enter the market. Much like any other product, your innovation may already be involved in several business activities aimed at monetizing it. It is important to note that the product is still an innovation that will need time to make its place in the market. Hence, it needs to be monitored and kept under constant observation for further improvements that make can make it even more relevant. Examples of boards that can help you monitor and improve your innovation are:

  • Product roadmap
  • Product launch
  • Product marketing launch
  • Product Planning with Gantt chart
  • Marketing plan

Moving forward with Innovation

As the rate of change in the world increases exponentially, innovation will be the driving force behind every successful business and any business which neglects it will risk getting left behind.

Which side do you want to be on?

Innovate or Die!

Ultimately, progress and innovation win.

Travis Kalanick