Creating Consistent Innovation Capability

This week InnovationManagement spoke with Jeffrey Phillips, VP Marketing and a lead consultant for OVO Innovation. Read more about his quest to permanently embed innovation management into the organizational structure of every company he works with and the reward of watching his clients continue with successful innovation initiatives on their own.

What is innovation management to you?

Innovation management is a repeatable business process that starts with identifying opportunities in the future using scenario planning and continues through to new product, service or business model commercialization.  I frequently use an analogy to procurement when talking about innovation.  In any organization, if you want to purchase a product or service from a vendor, there are people who specialize in purchasing who have a defined process, deep experience in purchasing and systems that support them.  In other words, most firms have a significant investment in people, processes and systems for procurement.  If we invest that much to acquire goods and services effectively, why wouldn’t we expect the same level of investment and consistency when we try to create new products and services?  Eventually, I think innovation management will have to be as embedded in the organizational structure as procurement in order to compete.

What’s the most satisfying part in your job?

I think the most enjoyable part of the work we do is when a client demonstrates they can conduct regular innovation initiatives that produce interesting new products and services using the methods we introduce but without our assistance.  It’s great to see the capabilities deployed and the teams exercise their new knowledge and processes.  We strive to create innovation capabilities that are repeatable long after we have done our work.  We’re only truly successful when the client innovates with us, and then can do so without us.

And the most frustrating parts?

There are too many unrealistic expectations about innovation.  Every firm wants to be innovative, yet few are willing to invest what’s necessary to become innovative.  Executives ask for innovation but don’t fund it appropriately.  Innovation drives new revenue, yet people are constantly pulled away from innovation projects to return to their “day jobs”.

What’s your next big challenge?

Our “next” challenge is the same challenge we’ve been working on all along.  We believe innovation should be a consistent part of the strategy and operations of every business, as central to the workings of a business as procurement or financial management.  No business would operate without a financial officer managing cash flow, income statements and balance sheets.  Think of innovation in that light – idea generation analogous to cash flow and idea portfolios and new products and services as balance sheets.  Innovation is THE competitive advantage, and to grasp that advantage firms need a consistent innovation capability.

About Jeffrey Phillips

Jeffrey PhillipsJeffrey Phillips is VP Marketing and a lead consultant for OVO Innovation. Jeffrey has led innovation projects for Fortune 5000 firms, academic institutions and not-for=profits based on OVO Innovation’s Innovate on Purpose™ methodology. The Innovate on Purpose methodology encourages organizations to consider innovation as a sustainable, repeatable business process, rather than a discrete project.

The Innovate on Purpose approach blends a systematic approach to innovation, incorporating trend spotting and scenario planning, investigation of customer needs with qualitative tools and idea generation and evaluation with an additional focus on corporate culture, training and incentives and rewards tied to innovation. OVO Innovation also provides a standard five day training program for innovation teams called the Innovation Advocate™ program.

Jeffrey is the author of “Make Us More Innovative,” a book that encompasses much of the OVO Innovation methodology, and blogs about innovation at Innovate On Purpose. He is a sought after speaker and has presented to corporations, innovation oriented conferences, and at a number of universities. In 2010 he chaired the Innovate North Carolina conference and was a keynote speaker at Queen’s University, University of the Pacific, UNC and several other colleges and conferences. Jeffrey has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Virginia.
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