Mind the Gap! 5 Tips on How to Align Your Boss’ Perception of Innovation Maturity with Reality

The Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study identified challenges organizations face in speeding innovation to bring products to market. The biggest disconnect appears between middle management and executives as to where the organization is with their innovation maturity. Bridging this gap may be the most important thing you do to improve ROI.

Many organizations are faced with a dichotomy between what is perceived and what is reality when it comes to innovation maturity. Until there is consensus, innovation will be at a standstill. Gaining Agreement: How Mature Is Your Innovation Management Program? is a whitepaper (a.k.a cheat sheet) to walk organizations through a series of actionable steps that level the playing field.

How Mature Are You?

Nothing breeds an “a-ha” moment more than the realization that what you’ve always done isn’t the way things necessarily should be done. The recent Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey was such a catalyst for many. It identified one of the most common challenges organizations experience as being how to speed innovation to deliver innovative products to market while still relying on the same approaches to people, processes and tools that continually limit their success. When you think about it, this is the quintessential definition for “insanity” – doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found too many projects for available resources as the number one challenge product organizations experience.

For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found too many projects for available resources as the number one challenge product organizations experience. Without clear prioritization criteria, an inability to respond to change effectively and no process to weed out low-value products in the funnel or market, companies are at a disadvantage when it comes to establishing the best practices required for managing a world-class, end-to-end innovation system.

All stakeholders must recognize the missing components required to run an efficient, results-producing innovation management program. The Innovation Management Maturity Model™ was created to help organizations modify their approach by first assigning themselves a measurable maturity level in each area (people, processes, and tools) using an objective assessment tool. As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a problem.” Once the maturity level is identified and agreed upon, the organization can work towards improving their maturity which in turn, will improve their chances for success.

5 Steps to Growing Up

Your job is to get your boss on your team and see things from your perspective.

The biggest obstacle in finding the actual maturity level is making sure everyone is on the same page. Middle management and executive leadership often have differing views on the organization’s innovation maturity, presenting a tremendous challenge in securing buy-in, budget and resources to implement and adopt necessary processes and tools to address pains and improve maturity. Your job is to get your boss on your team and seeing things from your perspective. Does he/she understand the cost of continued missed launch dates? Do they understand the impact of manual data gathering and report development?

Here are the 5 tips to bridge the perception gap and grow maturity:

  1. Educate executives – use the Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey to provide evidence of the pitfalls of having too many projects and overloaded resources
  2. Identify the gaps – use the Innovation Management Maturity Model to understand where stakeholders believe the organization ranks for each category and overall
  3. Have a plan – think of quick changes that yield immediate ROI (download the whitepaper to get some ideas)
  4. Speak their language – get into their world and articulate your plan using their language (download the whitepaper to see a helpful chart to easily identify personality types)
  5. Don’t wait for perfect to get started – there’s never a “perfect” time so just dig in with confidence

It will take perseverance and open communication

If you are ready to begin bridging the gap, stakeholders must have a realistic view of the organization’s innovation management maturity level, and then establish a clear plan of how to grow towards the next level of maturity. It will take perseverance and open communication, but with the steps outlined in the whitepaper, you’ll be well on your way to success.

To learn more about product portfolio management, these resources are your best bet:

  1. Download the complete whitepaper Gaining Agreement: How Is Your Innovation Management Program? for additional helpful tips, resources and a case study on a company who succeeded in establishing an effective product portfolio management solution
  2. Read the Fourth Product Portfolio Benchmark Survey to see what more than 500 product development leaders identified as their top pain points and risks; how they affect innovation; where product-centric companies are in terms of innovation management maturity and where they want to be; and what organizations can do to get products to market faster.
  3. Assess your organization’s innovation management maturity and see how you compare to companies across the globe in only five minutes using the Innovation Management Maturity Model™.
  4. Join the Product Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group to connect with more than 3,000 like-minded professionals and learn about solutions, strategies and best practices related to product portfolio management.
  5. Sign up for the monthly PIPELINE newsletter by emailing info@pipelineconference.com

By Steve Beaumont

About the author


Steve Beaumont, SRP Solutions Marketing Manager, Planview. Steve has worked in the Business Systems area for over 30 years. Beaumont spent 12 years working as a Business Systems Consultant for Deloitte, Coopers & Lybrand, and Ernst & Young, where he managed a team of consultants. Beaumont worked with a number of clients to improve and automate their business processes through the selection and implementation of new systems. Beaumont has spent a number of years working in the software industry helping to sell, implement and drive the enhancement of software solutions designed to help both PSOs and IT organisations to manage their businesses and deliver successful projects.

Photo: Suspension bridge in mountain from shutterstock.com

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