Independent consultant Stewart McKie says there are two different kinds of innovation: “new-old” (taking what you have and innovating to improve, expand or extend it) and “new-new” (making the leap beyond what you have into something genuinely new). But both kinds leverage more from today’s assets and create the assets of the future, and both kinds generally are managed through at least five business processes: road-mapping, scanning, collaborating, sparking, and shepherding. Road-mapping helps to define and project the course of your business, and its purpose is to get a big-picture overview in order to help identify where some innovation “tangents” might occur; it’s “a visual system that quickly communicates where the company is and could go.” Scanning is used to monitor some key performance indicators in your business for comparison to external benchmarks of market peers. Collaborating is a process that depends on the ability to identify common goals and share data and information so that participants can make sense of innovation collectively as well as individually. Sparking, a la the internal combustion engine, is the process of receiving input from a wide variety of sources and processing it to jump-start innovation; it could include employee suggestions, customer feedback, marketing surveys, brainstorming, focus groups, etc. Finally, shepherding is the process used to nurture those key drivers of innovation: ideas. In the innovation business, shepherds may be called “visionaries,” “evangelists,” or “product champions.” Every idea needs careful shepherding to realize its potential and deliver innovation. McKie says: Let Innovation thrive!

Intelligent Enterprise 1 Jan 2004