Process of Innovation

Gary Hamel’s ‘New Innovation Solution’, in his book “Leading the Revolution” (2000), is one of the most well-known explanations of how best to give ideas the best possible opportunity to flourish, whilst also not wasting resources on weak ideas. He carefully explains how best to nurture an ‘idea’ into an ‘innovation’, and what conditions are necessary to make this happen. The author outlines four key conditions that must be present in all businesses.

1. Innovation Skills – companies must not only rely on their employees’ innate creativity for ideas to be created, but can also enhance this by providing training and workshops on innovation. Possibly more important than this is creating an environment where individuals feel free to express themselves. Creating this environment is less obvious than putting on workshops and may take a while to develop, but can have substantial benefits.

2.  Measuring – measuring the quality and quantity of innovation taking place is not easy, but it is important to identify when it is not being allowed to occur. The Wealth Creation Index (WCI) is one example of measuring how value is being added to the business.

3. IT – the discussion and pooling of ideas can be crucial in developing an initial idea into an innovation utilised by the company and this can be enhanced by technology. Forums, chat rooms and information portals can be used to share ideas amongst employees to develop them further.

4. Management Processes – management have a critical role to play in encouraging employees to come up with and pursue ideas and then to help them develop them. Whether this is motivational or financial support, without their help many employees feel unable to get an idea viewed by senior management.

Hamel also outlines what he believes to be the five key stages of the innovation process: Imagine, Design, Experiment, Assess and Scale Up. The most important stage is experiment, this is the crucial part where good ideas should be given a chance to flourish, but resources should not be wasted pursuing a poor idea.

Once an innovation has been developed and a business believes it has a chance of being a success, they must then make the crucial decision of how autonomous it will be to the parent company. This decision has often been the main reason for the downfall of an innovation, or even the parent company. The parent company must give the innovation space to develop and maintain its own individuality, but should also use its resources to give it the best chance to do so. The parent company also has the opportunity to benefit from the ideas, technology and talent that the new innovation is bringing in. Getting this level of autonomy correct is key to a successful innovation.

Hamel, Gary. (2000). Leading The Revolution. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 2000. Print.