Paul Williams (who is a contributor to the new Corante Innovation Hub), in his post on the process of innovation, make a couple of good points. The first is:

The short definition I like to use for innovation is:

putting ideas to action… and that action making a difference.

This gels with the idea that my new role  is about generating business value, not just tinkering with toys.

Following from that, he lists some practical tasks (go read them!), most of which I agree with. The last (and for me slightly problematic) is “Implement” – not that I have a problem with implementation, because that IS the point of the exercise, but I am wondering whether someone who is charged with finding, identifying and evaluating great ideas is the best person to implement, and whether turning your innovator into a project/operational manager is a good idea.

Paul suggests that implementation is an action which turns the idea into something useful, but where do you hand over from proof of concept/pilot to an operational function? Do you become the (new) operational function? Or do you pass the baton, and go back to the next item in your pipeline of ideas?

 
[Bonus Link: How Do you Make Innovation Happen? from Paul Gladen, another Innovation Hub blogger.

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3 thoughts on “Innovation Implementation

  1. David – it’s not easy is it? I do have some direction from the CIO on this, and that is to handover the implementation – I think he understands my strengths and weaknesses! (Or maybe my likes and dislikes?) I’m in a situation where resources (both internal and contracted) are available to the right projects, so maybe I’m lucky to have the choice. Somewhere in my readings/searching around innovation, I read that “invention is what we do, innovations are what get implemented” – which reinforces your point. Ideas that are never executed are worthless, so if it came to the crunch then I would take on implementation of something I felt strongly about rather than let it wither.

  2. Whether you co-opt someone else for implementation depends on whether you have any other projects on the burner that need your attention, whether you can afford to “hire” someone else to perform implementation, and whether you have the skills necessary to manage an implementation. Whether going it alone or not, you will still need to be involved with implementation in order to assure that your vision and reality already match. Ideally, you have already sat down with you project manager and/or implementation team to make sure the deliverables on the project are realistic, given the capabilities (time, money, talent) of the company. Putting more and more ideas into the queue if none get implemented serves no purpose.
    I’ve spent many years in car dealerships in an innovation and development role; it was my job to both envision, develop and, still, support those processes and tools that I made. However, the support generally falls into cases where the software breaks or the environment changes. The companies that I worked for use a combination of third-party break/fix vendors and internal IT staff to actually support the hardware and software and perform routine monitoringof the software, leaving me to level 2 support.
    Implementation should involve both the innovator and the person/group who would be charged with maintenance and support once the project is live. For resource management and time management, whomever has the stronger skill set should take lead (or hire a project manager if justified). Implementation by committee.

  3. Whose Job Is Innovation Implementation?

    Ric Hayman asks a great question on his Aqualung blog in connection with a recent Corante Innovation Hub post by Paul Williams (and follow up from me)
    where do you hand over from proof of concept/pilot to an operational function? Do you become …

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