What Innovation Looks Like in 2034

By Sara Husk, HYPE Innovation |  July 11, 2024

The year is 2034. Innovation is no longer confined to a single department; it has become a cultural phenomenon—top of mind and all-encompassing, seamlessly integrated into the daily operations of each business unit and the routine work of every employee. Across departments, everyone collaborates to enhance the organization, unified by a common language and shared vision.

Sara Husk, Principal Consultant, HYPE Innovation

How did we get here when innovation was such a gamble just a decade ago? Remember when companies frivolously allocated resources to random ideas, hoping for breakout success? It was like a bygone game show: “Pick a door, and maybe win… a brand-new car!” But instead of a flashy convertible coupe, you often ended up with a dud product and a disappointed CEO.


But then came ISO 56001, the requirement standard for innovation management systems, released in October 2024. This game-changer flipped innovation management as we knew it on its head. From that point on, nothing would ever be the same — in a good way, of course.

From Quality to Innovation: The Impact of ISO Standards

While not a magic wand, ISO 56001 provided a roadmap for a systematic, structured approach to innovation. Imagine that! A clear plan instead of a dartboard! Initially, it was met with skepticism (shocker, I know). “A standard? That’s going to restrict our flexibility, confine our creativity, and slow us down!” they said. Gradually, however, corporate innovators worldwide began to recognize the standard’s true power:

“ISO 56000 became very useful to us. We started using it as a sort of presentation card when we went to meetings. Once people saw that we weren’t just selling a new innovation framework invented by a small group of people, but rather something well-recognized and familiar, with built-in quality, they trusted us a lot more. Referring to the ISO 56000 standards regularly has been very useful.”

Jorge Martinez Navarrete, Information Technology Officer, United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology

The best part about ISO 56001 is its flexibility. Far from being a rigid rulebook, the standard offers an adaptable framework that can be tailored to each organization’s unique operating style. Innovators still have a wide range of tools at their disposal to achieve optimal outcomes, but with ISO 56001, they are also supported by a shared vocabulary, best practices, and strategic direction.

For some, the opportunity was clear. After all, they only had to look to the past: just as ISO 9001 revolutionized quality assurance, ISO 56001 radically transformed innovation management. Here’s how:

  • From Silos to Synergy: ISO 56001 dismantled departmental barriers, much like ISO 9001 had previously emphasized cross-functional collaboration for quality management. Marketing wasn’t an island anymore. Instead, it collaborated with engineers to understand customer needs. Sales wasn’t confined to its ivory tower; it worked with R&D to develop products that resonated with the market. This beautiful, collaborative chaos fostered a hotbed for innovation.
  • Failure? More Like a Steppingstone: Fear of failure became a relic of the past. ISO 56001 championed “learning cycles,” similar to the continuous improvement ethos of ISO 9001. Companies embraced calculated risks, understanding that failed experiments yielded valuable insights. Failure wasn’t a dead end; it was a detour on the innovation highway.
  • The Rise of the Intrapreneur: ISO 56001 empowered employees at all levels, mirroring ISO 9001’s focus on employee engagement for quality improvement. The mailroom clerk with a million-dollar idea suddenly had a direct line to the CEO. Companies fostered a culture of intrapreneurship, where employees weren’t cogs in a machine, but creative minds driving progress.

The innovation champions who embraced ISO 56001 are now reaping the rewards. They’ve built a systematic approach to innovation, resulting in operational efficiency and more consistent, repeatable processes.

The Legacy of ISO 9001 Paved the Way for ISO 56001

The widespread adoption of ISO 9001 for quality management is a strong indicator of the potential for similar success with ISO 56001. Here’s why:

  • Global Acceptance: ISO 9001 boasts over one million certified organizations in over 175 countries. This widespread adoption demonstrates the value businesses place on structured quality management practices. This global acceptance of a structured approach to quality bodes well for the acceptance of a structured approach to innovation.
  • Measurable Benefits: Studies have shown a clear correlation between ISO 9001 certification and improved business performance. Companies implementing ISO 9001 report benefits like increased customer satisfaction, reduced waste, and improved efficiency. These quantifiable benefits create a compelling case for businesses to invest in similar standards for innovation management.
  • Cultural Shift: The success of ISO 9001 wasn’t just about paperwork; it was about a cultural shift within organizations. It instilled a focus on continuous improvement, customer focus, and data-driven decision-making. This groundwork laid by ISO 9001 creates a fertile ground for the cultural shift required for successful ISO 56001 implementation, focused on collaboration, calculated risk-taking, and open innovation.

Of course, some companies struggled to adapt to ISO 9001, just as others did with ISO 56001. However, the early signs were positive. The innovation champions who embraced ISO 56001 are now reaping the rewards. They’ve built a systematic approach to innovation, resulting in operational efficiency and more consistent, repeatable processes. They’re managing risk more effectively, securing support and investments. And, by demonstrating a commitment to innovation excellence, they’ve established stakeholder trust, opened doors to more partnership opportunities, and driven competitive growth. All in all, it’s been a steady climb upward for them.

“Using the standard [ISO 56000] has been helpful for getting our innovation program off the ground.”

Paul Pirie, Senior Manager for Integration and Innovation in the Digital Health Program, Ministry of Health Ontario

Today, innovation is a collective mindset—a constant hum of creativity fueled by collaboration and shared purpose. And it all started with a simple standard called ISO 56001. Who knew a few pages of guidelines could spark such a global transformation?

Sara Husk is a Principal Consultant at HYPE Innovation. HYPE Innovation is a leading provider of software and consulting for innovation management, offering a comprehensive platform for the entire lifecycle of your innovation program.