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Ralph Montague
Ralph Montague

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Can Innovation be Managed?

In 2019, at the first aecHive "Swarm" event in Dublin, Ireland, we were fortunate enough to have a presentation from Paul Killeen, from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), about "Innovation Management", and how Standards can support Innovation. That was an interesting idea, because there may be the assumption that "Innovation" is something that often happens "by chance", or is an "Ad-Hoc" activity ("..ah sure, let's just give it a try and see what happens.."), and therefore can't really be managed, planned, controlled, or predicted (from a business performance or return on investment point of view). This "loose" type of research or innovation would typically have low performance outcomes (except maybe for the odd accidental discovery of brilliance). On the other side of the scale, companies can put too many rigid constraints on research or innovation projects, to try and achieve predictable performance outcomes, that don't really give people the freedom to "explore" new ideas, or to "fail quickly and fail often". And so, on this side, performance outcomes also tend to be quite low.

What we learned from Paul's presentation was that in the new ISO56002 "Guidelines for Information Management", there was a happy medium where well-managed innovation (or "systematic" innovation), had a much better chance of achieving good results. This type of innovation was carried out within an organizational culture and context of strong leadership, backed up by commitment, vision, policy, with clearly defined strategy and careful planning and execution. The "innovation process" progressively moves "ideas" form initial intent or concepts to defined value propositions or solutions, iterating through a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle of continuous improvement, making sure all the required support resources and activities (skills, competencies, tools, testing and evaluation, etc) are available at the right time.

If you want to find out more about how "standards" can support innovation, this article may be helpful:

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