Innovate to Live, Live to Innovate

By Ludwig Melik, HYPE Innovation |  June 1, 2023

As the one steering the business, it’s your responsibility to maneuver around any unexpected obstacles. The road ahead will have twists, turns, bumps, and potholes. There will be instances when you won’t have a clear view of what’s around the bend. In other situations, harsh weather conditions may usher in a major storm that will severely limit your visibility. 

As a leader, you understand the importance of innovation management in maintaining a competitive edge, much like a motorcyclist constantly adjusts their balance and direction when navigating a challenging road. So, how can you ensure that your innovation efforts are positioned for success? One surefire way is to become certified for ISO 56001, an internationally recognized certification standard for Innovation Management Systems (IMS) that is scheduled for release in 2024. The good news is, if you’re forward-thinking and like to plan ahead, you can begin to prepare your organization for ISO 56001 with the help of ISO 56002, the guidance standard for IMS.

Ludwig Melik, CEO, Planbox

Following are the seven steps to help you prepare for eventual certification, providing your organization with the upper hand that leaves your rivals in the dust while you burn rubber towards market leadership.

Step 1: Context of the Organization

 “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” – Tony Robbins

A rider needs to plan their route to reach their destination in the same way that a company needs to create a clear innovation strategy to achieve its goals. Before starting your innovation journey, you need to first manage the internal and external factors that influence your organization’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives. 

  • Action Plan: Factor in issues that are outside of your control and those that you can influence; look for areas of opportunity for value realization, and the needs and expectations of interested parties. Define the scope of your IMS and establish it within your organization. This includes focusing on general culture and collaboration to foster a supportive environment for innovation.

Step 2: Leadership

“Don’t lead the pack unless you know where you’re going.” – Harlod Geneen

Leading an organization towards innovation success is like riding a motorcycle through challenging terrain. You need to be a rider who has control, with a clear vision of your destination and a well-planned route to reach it. Doing so requires you to demonstrate your leadership and commitment above all else. 

  • Action Plan: Focus on value realization, and implementing and maintaining an innovation vision, strategy, and policy. You should also ensure that responsibilities and authorities are communicated and understood throughout your organization.

Step 3: Planning

“Without a plan, you’re just riding around in circles.” – Benjamin Hardy

Identifying innovation opportunities is like riding a motorcycle on a winding mountain road. The path ahead can be unpredictable, so careful attention is required to spot the best opportunities for innovation. To achieve your innovation objectives, you need a solid plan. 

  • Action Plan: Take actions to address opportunities and risks, establish innovation objectives at relevant functions and levels, and understand what is needed to achieve those objectives. You should also consider adaptable organizational structures to achieve IMS outcomes and evaluate and prioritize your innovation portfolio

Step 4: Support

“Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.” – E. T. (Tex) Ritter

To ensure a smooth, safe, and successful ride, you need to have the right gear, like a helmet, gloves, and boots, among other accessories. You also need to have the right maintenance tools and knowledge to keep the motorcycle running like new. This is the same protective approach that will allow you to establish, implement, and ensure the continual improvement of your IMS.

  • Action Plan: Support your organization’s innovation approaches with proper management of people, time, knowledge, physical and virtual infrastructure, competencies, user awareness, communications, tools and methods, strategic intelligence and intellectual property. 

Step 5: Operations

“Happiness isn’t around the corner, happiness is the corner.” – Unknown

Planning, implementing and setting up the right IMS controls parallels how a rider must continually adjust their body position and control the throttle in response to the changing road ahead. Innovators must be agile and adaptive, ready to pivot and make adjustments as needed to stay on course towards their innovation goals. 

  • Action Plan: Plan, implement, and control your innovation initiatives, processes, structures, and support; manage each innovation initiative and configure innovation processes to suit each initiative. 

Step 6: Performance Evaluation

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” – Zig Ziglar

Measuring innovation performance is like tracking the speed and distance traveled on a motorcycle trip. A rider needs to monitor their progress to ensure they’re on track to reach their destination. Similarly, a company needs to measure innovation performance to determine whether its initiatives are on track to achieve its goals. 

  • Action Plan: Determine tools and methods to monitor, measure, analyze, and evaluate performance. Plan, establish, implement, and maintain an audit program, retain evidence of the audit program, including results and follow-ups, and conduct regular management reviews. 

Step 7: Improvement

“We must go fast because the race is against time.” – Elon Musk

Continuously improving innovation management is like upgrading a motorcycle with better parts and accessories. A well-maintained motorcycle is always evolving, just as a company’s innovation management system needs to continuously adapt and improve to stay ahead of the competition. 

  • Action Plan: To continually improve your IMS, you need to select opportunities for improvement, track deviations and nonconformities, and retain documents on corrective actions. 

If you’re ready to take your innovation program by the handles, a beneficial starting point is conducting an Innovation Management Capability Assessment. This exercise is outlined in ISO 56004 as the recommended approach for performing a gap analysis and getting a pulse on your program’s strengths and weaknesses.

Rev Up Your Innovation Game

The seven steps outlined by ISO 56002 guidance standard provide a roadmap for building an effective IMS, and one that is set up to meet industry best practices should you choose to go down the path of ISO 56001 compliance. Regardless, following these steps will not only establish a culture of innovation but also drive long-term revenue growth, resulting in a lasting competitive advantage. With these standards at your disposal, you can confidently guide your organization through the twists and turns of the innovation process, just like a skilled rider navigating challenging terrain.

Ludwig Melik

Ludwig Melik is the CEO of Planbox, which makes an AI-powered innovation management suite. He is a co-author of the Future Fit Manifesto and a member of the Forbes Technology Council.