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Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to work with numerous innovation teams on dozens of projects at several different organizations. At IES, we help companies implement a new process and culture we call Innovation Engineering. It is outside the scope of this blog to explain how Innovation Engineering works, but I’m happy to address that individually if interested readers will contact me. (Also, see Note 1 below.)

While all the innovation teams that I have coached have had very different projects, I have noticed several common misconceptions about innovations and innovation processes. I have noticed several myths that I plan to cover in a series of five blogs over the next several weeks. With apologies up-front for lack of creativity, I will call these “Kevin’s 5-myths to creating innovation”.

Myth 4. A well-defined, fully implementable system ensures innovation success.

A well-defined system for innovation should include a systematic process for innovation, defined roles, creativity tools and varying levels of training to support the innovation system. Having such a system certainly increases your chances of innovation success. So, I always encourage our clients to develop or adopt a formal system to increase their chances of innovation success. However, having an innovation system does not ensure innovation success, much like having a quality management system (e.g. ISO 9000) does not guarantee quality success.

There are many advantages of having an innovation (or any system for that matter), but one of the key ones is that the system is a set of components. Thus, when less than desirable results are achieved, the sub-components of the system can be analyzed and improved.

Many organizations are in the early stages of adopting a system for innovation – transforming the process of innovation from an ad hoc event that occurs infrequently into a system that produces many profitable innovative ideas over time. While many of these same organizations are newly adopting a formal process for innovation, they have had a formal quality management system for many years. Many learnings can be translated from their prior quality management system work. But, just as they have found with the QMS – having a QMS does not eliminate failures, thus they will find the same with their new innovation system. Yet,having a system for innovation make the ‘innovation task’ much easier and more efficient – just as they have seen with the QMS for many years.

Myth 1. If you have a meaningfully unique innovation 100% of customers will buy it (Dec-2015)

Myth 2. Innovation is only about new products (Jan 2016)

Myth 3. VOC is best place to get ideas for new innovations (Feb 2016)

Note 1: Upcoming Innovation Engineering courses at NC State – IES

  • June 29 Greensboro
  • July 15 Wilmington
  • August 16 Kannapolis

Kevin GraysonKevin Grayson is Director of Business Growth and Innovation Services at NC State Industry Expansion Solutions. He provides strategic consulting, including business plan and sales development strategy, market penetration, market growth, new product introduction, innovation strategies and product design to clients in multiple industries.