Every organization requires its employees to be innovative. Innovation is one of the most crucial determinants of success in an organization because stiff competition is always inevitable in most industries. Therefore, every organization in a given business segment usually aims at being innovative to remain competitive in the market. Lack of innovation increases the probability of a company losing its market share in a given business segment. Thus, innovation planning and design play a key role in ensuring success in an organization. Innovation planning involves many activities. It also requires adequate human resources to develop, test, and manage ideas. This paper examines the process of innovation planning and design, internal and external factors related to designing innovation strategies, as well as, the relevance of innovation system design.
Steps Involved in the Innovation Planning Process
The process of planning for any meaningful innovation in an organization involves a number of steps. Each step of innovation planning entails a number of activities required to complete it successfully (Phillips, 2012). In addition, the execution of every step requires many tools and techniques (Phillips, 2012). One of the tools and techniques include a work plan, which clearly describes the activities to be undertaken, the time limit, and those responsible for each activity. This is crucial because it enables employees to understand how the activities to be implemented will result into an innovative product or service. Some of the steps applicable to the process of innovation planning include the following.
First, an organization is required to identify the market trends and conduct a scenario planning (Phillips, 2012). The goal of this step is to enable an organization to determine, which products or services will be most suitable to meet customers’ needs. Additionally, trend spotting can enable an organization to forecast future changes in the market. Therefore, an organization can develop a product or service to meet future needs and demands of customers. This ensures that an organization remains competitive and relevant.
Second, innovation planning entails gathering information about customers’ needs in order to gain a thorough understanding of a market (James, 2010). This step also enables an organization to understand the existing demands and gaps in the market. Consequently, an organization can use the information gathered about customers’ needs to make informed decisions.
The preceding steps influence the third step of innovation planning process, which requires generation of ideas using the information collected about market trends and customers’ needs (James, 2010). This step needs inclusion of all employees within an organization in order to generate as many ideas as possible (James, 2010). The brainstorming technique plays a critical role in this step. Employees can brainstorm about possible options and ideas. Additionally, an organization can use ideas campaigns. Ideas campaign is most suitable when an organization has adequate time and many employees (Steve & Kenneth, 2009).
After generating ideas, the next step entails evaluation, prioritization, and selection of relevant ideas to be developed (James, 2010). Evaluation, prioritization, and selection of ideas should be informed by relevant data (James, 2010). This ensures that any decision made is based on facts; hence, ensuring that the whole process of innovation planning is objective.
Ideas selected help to develop prototype products or services (James, 2010). After that, the proto-products or services are tested in the market. Piloting enables an organization to test a new product in order to identify any weakness and to determine whether the new product or service will meet the market needs. Information collected from the piloting stage enables an organization to improve the new product. After a successful creation of the product or service, an organization can officially launch it in the market.
Internal and External Factors Related to Designing Innovation Strategies
A strategy refers to an organizational change (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). “An action is strategic when it allows a firm to become better than its competitors, and when its competitive advantage is sustainable” (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). Therefore, an innovation strategy refers to “a plan made by an organization to encourage advancements in technology or services by investing in research and development activities” (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). An innovation strategy should enable an organization to develop a new mindset, and a different focus (Steve & Kenneth, 2009).
A number of internal and external factors are related to the process of designing an innovation strategy (Johnson, 2010). Some of the internal factors include the following. First, financial resources play a key role in designing an innovation strategy (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). The amount of financial resources that an organization has will determine whether it adopts a complicated or a simple innovation strategy.
Therefore, a company with a strong financial base can design a more detailed innovation strategy compared to a company that lacks adequate finances. Second, the process of designing an innovation strategy also depends on an organization’s human resources. Human resources determine the ability of an organization to be innovative. Organizations with highly skilled human resources stand a better chance of designing effective strategies as opposed to organizations with inadequate human resource skills (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). An organization’s technological resources also relate to designing innovation strategies. Relevant and adequate technological resources enhance the ability of an organization to design innovation strategies that are effective and appropriate. Technology also enhances efficiency in designing innovation strategies.
On the other hand, some of the external factors that relate to designing innovation strategies include the nature and structure of the market (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). The nature and structure of the market influence how a company designs its innovation strategy. Additionally, other factors such as competitors and customers of a company influence the design of innovation strategies.
To some extent, external and internal factors are related. For instance, the technological resources that an organization has will determine its competitiveness in the market (Steve & Kenneth, 2009). Therefore, an organization that has diverse and adequate technology has the likelihood of being more competitive in the market. This implies that some of the internal factors of an organization also influence the external factors and the entire process of designing an innovation strategy. Thus, it is important for an organization to assess how its internal factors may affect the external ones. In so doing, an organization will be able to design an innovation strategy that can enable it to maintain a competitive advantage against its competitors.
Innovation Systems Design
An innovation system refers to “a tool that assists with the capture, selection, development, and implementation of ideas for commercial purposes” (Johnson, 2010). An innovation system entails “a performance improvement or continuous improvement of a system, an idea management system, or a project management system” (Johnson, 2010). An innovation system can be developed through systems review, systems design, and systems implementation (Johnson, 2010). Systems review entails a review of an organization’s state of innovation in order to establish employees’ attitudes to innovation and resources required (Johnson, 2010). Systems design is about designing an innovation system that integrates with an organization’s processes, methods, and strategies (Johnson, 2010). After a system has been designed, it is implemented.
Many factors are involved in innovation systems design. For instance, innovation systems involve identification of the major inputs required. It also involves identifying the staff required during the innovation process, financial resources, and technology. The technology chosen by a company determines how human resources share information. Additionally, an organization should consider institutional factors such as legislations and societal values. Innovation systems also entail identification of problems within a system in order to make improvements.
Innovation systems are relevant in a number of ways. For instance, innovation systems serve as a means to develop, disseminate, and utilize innovations (Johnson, 2010). Therefore, innovation systems can facilitate information sharing among different entities. An innovation system enables an organization to select the most appropriate ideas to implement in order to realize maximum benefits. An innovation system is a useful tool that an organization can use to develop its ideas effectively (Johnson, 2010). Moreover, innovation systems promote the flow of technology among people and companies.
Innovations always determine an organization’s competitiveness. Therefore, innovation planning plays a key role in the success of an organization. Innovation planning entails many interlinked processes. Innovation plans can be effective if organizations design innovation strategies and innovation systems.
James, J. (2010). A Process for Innovation Planning. London: Oxford University Press. Web.
Johnson, A. (2010). Functions in Innovation System Approach. London: Eagle Press. Web.
Phillips, J. (2012). Relentless Innovation: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What that Means to Your Business. New York: Fast Company Publishers. Web.
Steve, M., & Kenneth, P. (2009). Introduction to Innovation Strategies in the 21st Century. New York: Broadway Publishers. Web.