Innovation: choosing what, where and when

Based on the importance of innovation, we may assume innovation will be part of most company’s strategy. This leads to a number of questions: what are our innovation objectives and targets? What timing factors do we need to take into account? What is the required magnitude of innovation?

By Jeroen de Kempenaer, Senior Consultant, Industry Consulting, Philips Engineering Solutions

Such issues are important – but primarily at boardroom level. For the organization, however, a far more actionable approach is needed. How do you map choices, develop winning architectures and effectively manage the portfolio?

Successfully making and managing your innovation roadmap

Roadmapping provides the structure on which marching orders are based. It allows the organization to develop an integrated view of the steps required to reach specific goals. Which product do we need to offer in certain markets? When do we start? What should be done first? When should specific tasks be completed? The roadmap is based on outside-in customer and market insights, and on an inside-out view of the organization. Roadmapping sets the organization in motion and provides insight into vital questions: ‘Why are we taking this step?’ ‘How are we going to achieve this goal?’

Thinking like an architect will make your efforts more coherent. Instead of looking at new products as stand-alone project, the idea is to find structure in the roadmap. You need to discover and make use of any commonalities. Try thinking of new products or services as a set of functional modules with logical interfaces. If your innovation has an impact on one particular function, focus on that module! Good architecture allows you to make the best possible use of your scarce resources by not reinventing products over and over.

Managing the portfolio: a complete overview

When considering all current and planned products, ask yourself: Do we adequately cover all relevant customer segments? Do we offer enough choice in price levels? Have we struck a balance across the lifecycle of our products? Few products are eternal evergreens. Countless organizations have been surprised by an ‘intruder’ in their market offering a smart innovation for an unmet need. Proactive portfolio management avoids unpleasant surprises and promotes resilience.

The innovation roadmap is vital to translating strategies to concrete actions and products. After all, creativity for its own sake doesn’t mean business success!

Three levers for ongoing improvement of the innovation management process

Image: Lever 1 – Setting clear innovation goals and making smarter choices

That means roadmapping your innovation choices to reach your strategic goals, based on winning architectures and effective portfolio management.

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In upcoming editions, we will illustrate each value proposition separately.

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