During workshops the question usually comes up the near the end. What do you think is key for an organization to be successful in innovation and new product development? I often give a short answer depending on the group at hand, but I’d like to provide a more specific answer here as well as include several texts that innovation managers should scan.
Leadership, New Product Development Process, and Project Management are my big three. If you have all three then an organization, employing focused strategy, should be successful. But this is not just my opinion. Jean-Philippi Descamps in “Innovation Leaders: How Senior Executives Stimulate, Steer and Sustain Innovation” illustrates how leadership enables innovative organizations. Is our own organization structured and designed for efficiency or for innovation or for both? Leadership must ensure that we are designed for innovation if we are to gain and maintain competitive advantage.
C. Merle Crawford and C. Anthony Di Benedetto in their books emphasize the new product development process. According to Crawford and Di Benedetto, organizations that utilize a formal new product development process are more successful. This only makes sense. If we study the process used by Google, Apple, and others we see the value of creativity and innovation via a well executed new product development process.
Two books have done an excellent job providing information and examples associated with the benefits that project management bring to innovation including better products and quicker time to market. Dov Dvir and Aaron J. Shenhar (2007) in “Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth & Innovation” expound on the business side of project selection and project management from an innovation perspective. In their 2010 book, “ Managing Research, Development and Innovation: Managing the Unmanageable”, Ravi Jain, Harry C. Triandis, and Cynthia W. Weick note that managing research, R&D, and innovation requires the skills of intelligent project sponsors and project managers.
As a manager of innovation teams, it is imperative to keep these three “keys” in the forefront of our conversations with senior management, our teams, and our development partners.