What is an Innovation Life Cycle?
An “Innovation Lifecycle” is the different stages of the innovation process, including the conditions and factors that support each stage, and how and when to use different tools and ways of doing things.
The innovation process can be looked at in many different ways, however there are six stages that will be considered in this blog.
What are the Stages of an Innovation Life Cycle?
Innovation is a continuous activity. Many organizations have been adding innovation departments to their infrastructure. Innovation typically moves through a set cycle that includes six basic steps with a repeating set of activities, goals, and outputs.
- What is the Problem? Successful innovation programs identify problems. To identify a problem an organization needs to gather and organize information, then reframe and ask why something is the way it is. The next steps are to set expectations and to identify what success looks like.
- Choose the Process. Innovation can become a repeatable and even predictable practice when you have a process for identifying, sharing, and selecting ideas. There are many processes to choose from and it should be considered what works best for your organization and also what what is best for your unique innovation initiative.
- Collaborate with Others. Every innovation should include a communications plan to figure out how to get people to share their ideas, how to keep them coming back to build on other’s ideas and what incentives to use to motivate creative participation.
- Turn Ideas into Projects. Ideas need teams of people to help steward a project to completion by refining ideas, conducting research, finding collaborators and more.
- Prioritize and Evaluate Projects. There may be many great ideas, but you only want to move forward with the best ones that are the most in line with your organizational goals. There should be a process to evaluate and identify the ideas that will give you the highest ROI.
- Implement your Ideas. When putting your plans into action you will need buy-in, organizational allies, and to have creativity in finding resources.
Common Innovation Challenges
There are many challenges that government organizations can face in their Research and Development process. Here are five challenges that organizations commonly face when managing change:
- Lack of Funding for Innovation. Government budgets are often strapped. Finding funding in the budget for something new can be difficult. However, oftentimes the differences between a good idea and a great one has to do with timing, so it is critical that government organizations find the time and resources to innovate.
- Generating Excitement. Employees rely on their managers for support and approval of innovations. Managers should be excited about creating change so that employees will feed off of their energy and excitement. Leadership is vital for project success and for a higher number of innovational activities. For leaders, having a conversation on various challenges faced during the development of a new idea can introduce new thought patterns and encourage further innovations and problem solving throughout an organization.
- Executing a Transparent Strategy. Organizations that are more innovative tend to have a clearer structure for innovation. When there is a clear and evident path, then people involved in a project are more certain of expectations, what can be developed further, what is not beneficial to continue, and what ideas have already been advanced.
- Creating and Communicating a Transparent Plan. There should always be a plan for what changes will be made and how these changes will be spread throughout the organization. Structure aids the development of ideas. Clarity eases implementation so that those innovating do not also need to figure out how their innovations will be adopted organization-wide. Good communication of the strategies and roadmaps makes the process of innovation transparent and aids with direction.
- Unrealistic Expectations. People tend to lose confidence when expectations are unrealistic. This lost confidence leads to less innovation. When a capability is overpromised, it leads to disappointment; when an innovation is underestimated then it can lead to difficulty in procuring budget. Managing expectations is a difficult balancing act and incremental change requires patience. Some use the “Rule of 18” to manage the innovation journey. The rule of 18 is that any project that is not completed within 18 months is cut, but it can diminish breakthrough opportunities and create short-sightedness by inflating potential capabilities, timelines, and sales. However, it does help to secure incremental funding, incremental progress, enhancements and capabilities. It is best to set expectations early and to have a balanced view of what is achievable while creating the greatest opportunities for potential breakthroughs.
Adoption of Innovations
Innovations require money, resources, and ample meticulous planning right from the beginning. Researchers know what challenges they may face if they are not able to identify the correct research area and objective.
Inventors often face similar challenges during the public adoption of invention. They may know the qualitative aspects of their research and potential applications of their invents, but when research is not carried out in relation to what gaps there are in the constituent’s needs, then the reception by the public might not be enthusiastic.
Another potential challenge is superior alternative technology. Though a process may be inventive enough for a patent, it may not be the best process out there. There may be another, superior product that works more efficiently to achieve the same or better results, or associated costs may be too high with one product versus another.
If you are confident as a researcher, that your invention is ready for public distribution, then there may be a lack of communication holding you back. The invention needs to have its product-fit and market-fit communicated.
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