Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Managing The Innovative Process

In talking about a firm’s habitual activities, similar to the concept of functional fixedness, Leonard (1998) identified that: “The problems on which people focus are the ones most relevant to current markets and current operations” (p. 35). This results in problematic processes incapable of reacting to competitive changes and creating new innovative products. Although Leonard did not identify this as a process problem, she did however identify this as an organizational problem by stating: “organizational routines solidify” (p. 35). What solidifies are the policies and processes set by the organization and its management, preventing innovative processes from occurring.

Anthony, Duncan, and Siren (2014) utilized the minimum viable product (MVP) as a means to fostering new innovative products. MVP “denotes a stripped-down functional prototype used as a starting point for developing a new offering” (Anthony et al., 2014, P. 62). By beginning with a basic prototype, creativity comes from the process. This process is defined by those involved in advancing the prototype into a new product. The knowledge, experience, and collaborative efforts among those who are involved in developing this new prototype, drive the new process that ultimately, returns the new innovative product. 

This innovative formula has been identified for some time, however managers and organizations who get caught up in accountability and meeting quarterly budgets often loose sight of this innovation process. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) highlighted this process: “Business organizations should foster their employees’ commitment by formulating an organizational intention and proposing it to them” (p. 75). Proposing this organizational intention, whether in the form of a basic prototype or by other means, leaving the innovative process to those involved in the work, will foster the innovative process. 

To be successful the right people need to be involved, providing the required skills and knowledge to complete such a task. In addition, resources need to be made available to those involved so that they can complete the task. These two criterions have been identified as common obstacles to the creative process: “Two obstacles, in our experience, may daunt companies…: a lack of resources and a lack of people with pertinent experience” (Anthony et al., 2014, p. 65). 

Briefly, to create innovative processes, the following minimum requirements are required:

  • Break the firm’s habitual activities
  • Incorporate a team with the required skills and experiences to create the proposed innovative product
  • Assure that all resources are available to the innovation team
  • Introduce the organization’s intention with no restrictions / boundaries
  • Let the innovative process develop by stepping back so that the innovation team is allowed to work
  • Continue to provide resources to the innovation team as needed
  • Accept failures as: (1) a learning experiences and (2) one step closer to the end product


Anthony, S. D., Duncan, D. S., & Siren, P. M. A. (2014). Build an innovation engine in 90 days. Harvard Business Review, 92(12), 60-68. Retrieved from http://www.HBR,org

Christensen, C. M., & Raynor, M. E. (2003). The innovator’s solution: Creating and sustaining successful growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Leonard, D. (1998).Wellsprings of knowledge: Building and sustaining the sources of innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. 

Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge creating company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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