How to manage the innovation process with your team

Every business needs to grow and adapt to its surroundings. If it doesn’t, chances are it won’t succeed — especially if competitors are taking steps to develop in the marketplace.

Simply put, if your business doesn’t change to keep up with customer demands, it might not survive.

This is where an innovation process can help.

With a solid innovation process in place, your business can find the best avenue of growth. You’ll minimize risk, increase customer satisfaction, and give your business the best chance of success.

In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know to create a successful innovation management process. Let’s start by clarifying what an innovation process actually is.

What is the innovation process?

The innovation process involves creating new ideas for products or services to bring to the market. It’s the pathway from idea generation to delivery of a new product.

The innovation process provides structure. It helps you identify areas of growth in your business and figure out the logistics and restraints of bringing a new product or service to the market.

Without this structure, there’s a chance you might overlook some crucial information.

For example, let’s say you have a disruptive innovation idea for a new product that you’ll use to target a broader audience. You map out the steps involved in creating the new product, how much it will cost, and when it’ll go live.

But you’ve overlooked one crucial area: customer demand.

Although your product might be great, there’s no indication that consumers are looking for this new product within the marketplace. By launching this new product without researching consumer demand, you’re taking a big risk.

But with the innovation process, you cover all bases. You’ll identify gaps in the market and figure out how best to create a viable product that meets customer demand.

The 5 step innovation process

There are different types of innovation and different ways businesses tackle the approach to innovation.

But all of these businesses generally follow a similar innovation process.

Here, we’ll take a look at the five key stages of this process.

Five key stages of the innovation process
The five key stages of the innovation process that most businesses follow

Step 1: Idea generation

The first stage in the process is idea generation (sometimes known as concept development). During this stage, the innovation team focuses on the conception of new ideas. For example, offering a new service to customers or launching a new product to a different target audience.

There are two ways to tackle this process:

  • The proactive approach: This involves looking for new ideas based on the business strategy or innovation plan. For example, if your business strategy involves reaching a new target audience, the proactive approach would be to sit down and think about new ways the business can achieve this goal.
  • The demand-driven approach: Unlike the proactive approach, the demand-driven process generates ideas based on competitor behavior, changes in the marketplace, or customer demand/feedback. For example, if customer demand changes, you might need to create a new product or service to hold your competitive position and meet consumer needs.

Using an innovation discovery template is a great way to structure this part of the process. It keeps the team aligned and provides a central location for everyone to work from.

Miro's innovation discovery template
Use Miro’s innovation discovery template to structure your idea generation

During this stage of the process, everyone involved must have the freedom to explore and be creative with new ideas and concepts. To do this, it’s up to the team leader or manager to create an open culture of communication (more on this later).

Step 2: Preparation

Once the idea generation stage is complete and you’ve identified the best way to move forward, you’ll progress to the preparation stage.

This stage involves researching, collecting, and analyzing data to see if and how the new idea can be brought to life. It looks at the marketplace, production demand, and competitor analysis.

By doing this, you’re making sure that your innovative idea has legs to stand on. If it doesn’t, you can return to the drawing board and figure out a new plan of action.

The preparation stage also includes resource management. You need to know if your new idea is plausible based on resources, funds, and capacity.

Step 3: Innovation

Logistically speaking, your new idea is good to go. Now, it’s time to test your idea and bring it to life in the third stage of the process: innovation.

The aim is to create a product or service that’s ready to launch to the market. It involves the following steps:

  • Review resources and team capacity
  • Produce a plan of action to create the new product or service
  • Outline a timeline for launch
  • Share the plan and timeline with everyone involved (including key stakeholders)
  • Make any necessary changes

Once all of this is complete, you can create your new product or service. At this stage, you can test it to make sure everything runs as it should before you take it to your customers.

Step 4: Market and expansion

Now that your product or service is ready to go, it’s time to put it out there for customers to buy.

But before you launch anything, you should have a marketing strategy in place. This will make sure that you maximize the launch process to increase exposure and awareness. As a result, you’ll give your new product or service the best chance of success.

Take a look at this marketing strategy template to get the ball rolling.

Miro's go-to-market strategy template
Use Miro’s go-to-market strategy template to help your maximize your product or service launch process

After everything is live, make sure to track progress and monitor feedback from customers (market research). This will give you an indication as to how the new product or service is being received and whether you need to make any changes.

Step 5: Learning

In your marketing strategy, you will have outlined some measures for success. In this stage, it’s time to reflect on how well your innovation has performed concerning these goals.

Did you reach your goals in the allotted time frame? Did you overachieve in any areas? Were customers pleased with the new product or service?

The answers to these questions will determine the successes and failures of the innovation project. From the successes, you’ll learn how to approach future innovations. With the failures, you can make sure that future innovations don’t make the same mistakes.

What is innovation management, and why is it important?

Innovation management is pretty much what it sounds like: managing the innovation process.

To make the most of your innovation efforts, you need innovation management. Although it sounds like a simple concept, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Without innovation management, your innovation efforts could lack structure and direction, both of which could impact your ability to deliver a successful new product or service.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of innovation management in more detail:

  • Keep innovation aligned with the business strategy. All of your innovation efforts should align with the overall goals of the company — innovation management makes sure that they do.
  • Provide structure. Innovation management provides structure to the innovation process, giving teams guidance on how to bring new ideas to reality.
  • Reduce risk. Part of the innovation management process involves ensuring company time and money are being used effectively. For instance, the team leader or manager may proactively conduct a risk assessment to address any issues as part of the innovation process.
  • Encourage team members to suggest new ideas. Effective innovation management nurtures the creative abilities of employees, creating a work environment that’s safe for new ideas.

Best practices for managing the innovation process with your team

Are you managing a team through the innovation process?

Here, we’ll outline some of the best practices you can follow to manage the innovation process with your team effectively.

1. Understand the 4 key pillars of innovation management

There are four key pillars to innovation management:

  • Competency
  • Structure
  • Culture
  • Strategy

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Table outlining the four key pillars of innovation management
The four key pillars on innovation management help businesses stay organized and focused

These pillars help businesses stay organized and focused throughout the innovation process. To give yourself the best chance of successful innovation, you need to have a thorough understanding of each one.

2. Use platforms to collaborate

You need to be able to communicate and collaborate throughout the innovation process. If you don’t, the entire process could break down, and you won’t be able to deliver a successful product or service.

So what can you do to make sure you’re able to collaborate effectively?

First of all, think about the platforms and tools you’re using. If they don’t enable collaboration, they might not be the right fit for your team.

Visual of Miro's collaborative online whiteboard
Miro’s online whiteboard allows for successful collaboration with your team

Let’s take a look at a few collaborative platforms to give you an idea of what’s out there.

  • Miro for brainstorming ideas: Miro is Using our online whiteboard, collaboration has never been easier. You can create visual brainstorms, chat and send messages, and add comments directly to project boards. And if a message or comment isn’t in-depth enough, being able to share screen recordings can help you better explain your situation to team members.
  • Slack for instant messaging: Slack allows you to instantly communicate with your team members. So long as they have internet connection and access to Slack, you can remain in touch. Create your own channels, group messages, and even integrate other platforms into Slack to streamline all your collaborative efforts.
  • Asana for project management: Asana is an online work management platform. It helps teams visualize their entire workload in one location. Teams can share information, plan their tasks, and collaborate with colleagues to deliver their projects on time.

Whether you use an online whiteboard to brainstorm ideas or project management software to manage your workflow, you need innovation management tools that encourage collaboration and help teams work together.

Take a look at this success story about Zendesk to see how using a collaborative platform helps teams,

3. Create a culture of innovation with open communication

For employees to feel safe sharing their ideas, you need to create a culture of open communication. If you don’t, team members might be reluctant to offer their ideas and suggestions.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Acknowledge new ideas. Even if they’re not quite what you’re looking for, be sure to acknowledge them and thank the person for sharing their ideas.
  • Openly ask for new ideas and suggestions. That way, your team knows that they’re able to come to you with new ideas when they have them.
  • Host regular chats/meetings with teams (including one-to-ones). If your team is regularly in communication with you, they’re more likely to feel comfortable coming to you with new ideas.

4. Set a clear innovation measurement

To effectively measure success, you need a clear innovation measurement. Whether that’s an end goal or milestones to hit along the way, you need something in place to track your innovation performance.

Not only will these goals keep your team motivated and accountable for their actions, but it’s also a great way for you to track progress in real-time. For example, if you have a milestone that you haven’t reached by the specified deadline, you can immediately see that things are falling behind.

So make sure you have clear goals and milestones for your innovation project before you get started. This will help keep everyone aligned in their work and make sure you reach your end goal within a specified timeframe.

When it comes to creating goals, using the SMART goals framework is a good place to start.

Miro's SMART goals template
Use Miro’s SMART goals template to create clear goals and milestones

Using this framework, you can create goals and metrics that are clear, realistic, and achievable.

Start your innovation management process today

If you want your business to succeed, innovation management should be on your radar. Without it, your innovation efforts could lack direction. As a result, your business might not grow and develop as successfully as possible.

Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of innovation management and the innovation process, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Miro is your team's visual platform to connect, collaborate, and create — together.

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