2020-Innovation > Business > What is innovation management?

What is innovation management?

Innovation has never before been as present as it is today, everyone talks about innovation, everywhere you read about innovation. But what exactly is innovation and what does innovation management mean?

Innovation “is derived from the Latin word” innovare “and stands for renewal. From an economic point of view, innovation is something new that brings benefits for an organization and/or society.

Terms that are often associated with innovation are idea and invention. An invention or invention is to be distinguished in that it has not yet been exploited and used as a creative achievement of a new problem solution in comparison to innovation. It is exactly the same with the idea that a creative thought is something new.

In all cases “new” is always relative. It can be new for this situation, the company or the world.


What is innovation management?

Management “is a term that is constantly used in companies. It represents the management of a task and the coordination of activities in order to achieve a defined purpose and goals.

As a result, innovation management is the systematic promotion of innovations in organisations and includes tasks of planning, organisation, management and control.

Innovation management deals with all measures to promote innovations in organisations and to generate benefits, for example:

  • New products and services to conquer new markets.
  • Improved products and services to stand out from the competition.
  • Improvement of internal processes in order to strengthen the company from within or to save costs.
  • Development of new business models to exploit new sources of income.

Innovation management forms two major pillars:

  • On the one hand, the creation of framework conditions so that ideas are generated everywhere in the company and turned into successful innovations. This is very much about organisational development activities.
  • And on the other hand, the actual innovation, the active search, development and implementation of ideas. This requires creativity and project management, for example.

Innovation management is very versatile. The fields of action of innovation management include among others

  • Future management: Identification of trends and future opportunities and risks.
  • Development of the innovation strategy and planning of innovation activities such as an innovation roadmap.
  • Organization and distribution of roles in innovation management, such as decision-making structures and process ownership.
  • Idea management for finding, developing and evaluating ideas.
  • Innovation process for transforming an idea into a successful innovation: concept development, business plan, solution development, prototypes, implementation and marketing.
  • Creating a culture of innovation that promotes innovation.
  • Portfolio management and innovation controlling (e. g. innovation indicators) to manage innovation activities.
    Dealing with patents and property rights.
  • Open innovation and innovation networks to leverage external innovation sources and resources.
    Change management in the course of innovation projects.
  • The diversity of innovation management activities also makes it clear that they are interlinked in all areas of the company. Innovations are everyone’s business.

Innovation is renewal. Improvement is also the implementation of something new, but with a lower degree of novelty and it is usually the optimization or extension of existing.

The line between innovation and improvement is blurred. What innovation is and what is improvement cannot be clearly defined and differs according to the viewer.

Improvement management has a long tradition in companies. It comprises a variety of management methods and approaches that serve to improve existing products, processes and organizations. Many of these have their origins in quality management. Here are some examples:

  • Continuous improvement process (CIP):
    All employees are motivated and empowered to constantly question and improve processes in teamwork. The basis for this is the PDCA cycle (Plan – Do – Check – Act).
  • Kaizen:
    “No day should pass without any improvement in the company” is the message of Kaizen, which has its origins in Japan and is similar to the CIP.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM):
    The focus is on increasing the quality of processes and products while involving employees to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Company suggestion scheme (BVW):
    The aim is to encourage employees to think along with others. They are given the opportunity to submit ideas spontaneously, which are then treated, implemented and awarded prizes in a clearly regulated process.
    Improvement and innovation go hand in hand. A company must embrace both continuous improvement and innovation.

Innovation management encompasses all measures to promote and use innovation – innovations – in the company. The focus is not only on the new, but also on the benefits of innovation. The aim is to develop new and improved products, new business models or new processes.