Innovation Management

Which of the four models of innovation management are right for your organization?

Innovation management models vary across a wide combination of characteristics. A simple frame of reference helps. Consider two questions.

1. How will you lead innovation? Will it be guided by a central corporate growth strategy, or directed closer to the field, in business units or local markets? What leadership culture does your organization practice? Do you lead from the top, or from the rank-and-file?

2. How will you deliver innovation – again, will it be a single “Center of Excellence”, or specialists deployed in the field?

Design your Organization to Innovate

Here are some comparative examples in two industry sectors renowned for very different types of innovation.

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Apple practiced a top down model under Steve Jobs that set one direction as a central command, with innovation at the core of the business. In effect, innovation was the business strategy. The diverse business groups under Siemens‘ global organization structure organization to flow from the top down business strategy, with top-level direction.

GE‘s innovation “greenhouse” by stark contrast, is led by a cross-functional panel of executives who fund and govern innovation on the model of venture capital. They advise innovation project teams as if they were entrepreneur-managers, and commandeer the resources required for success. IBM, the inventor’s of the “skunk works” concept, frequently cordon off  their cross-function innovation teams to shield them from the management priorities of delivering quarterly results.

Nestle & Hewlett-Packard practice their own versions of a service center model, with a small team of centralized innovation specialists on-call to the sponsoring businesses.

Google‘s famous open market approach devotes 20% of each employee’s time to innovation – a day per week invested in creating new offerings at the edge of new technologies. This method has produced some of Google’s most valuable offerings, including Google Mail and Google Maps. Procter & Gamble achieved even greater acclaim for spearheading the Open Innovation movement, taking Google one step further by recognizing that the best ideas in the world were unlikely to all reside in the heads of their employees – no matter how numerous or talented they may be.

Craft Innovation Activities to Match your Organization Design

How should innovation be led and informed? Funded? Staffed, equipped and measured? Each organization model employs a custom set of management activities.

innovation organization models and management activities

Each organizing models employs different methods to execute on innovation. What is the right model for your company?

Analyze your company’s metabolism and culture. Run through the roster of six activities. Choose your model for each. Mix and match to design your own unique innovation management model.

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