Innovation is becoming mainstream, and few would doubt the benefits it can bring to a business (growing revenues, improving efficiencies, & increasing employee engagement, to name a few). It encourages creativity; thinking differently; and throwing off the shackles & constraints of conventional thinking.
However, confusion between Innovation and Idea generation (Ideation) often results in companies warmly embracing tactics such as online ideation; creativity; and design thinking, but with little or no consideration for the alignment of these activities to their overall business strategy & priorities.
Now, to be clear, these ideation techniques are brilliant, they're fun to be involved in, and most importantly they do work. I've seen great results from all these approaches, but I've also seen that - without strategic alignment — the novelty can quickly wear off and when the initial budget runs out, senior commitment to the programme often withers and dies.
It might seem counter-intuitive that the 'creation of the novel' might best be served by the introduction of formal processes and governance - but this month will see the launch of the brand-new ISO 56002: Innovation Management System Guidance.
ISO56002 is a key document in a new series of International Standards that provide organisations with guidelines and processes for managing innovation. More precisely, the ISO56000 series of standards outlines the best practice, procedures, and guidance needed to develop, implement, maintain & continually improve an organisation specific Innovation Management System.
“Innovation is not just ‘big inventions’, it is the capability of an organization to detect and respond to changing conditions in its environment, to respond to new opportunities and to make the most of the resources it already has.”
Alice de Casanove, Chair (ISO Technical Committee)
In establishing these standards for Innovation, ISO had to address the significant challenge of standardising something quite ethereal, and it was essential that any such standard did not impede the creativity inherent in innovation.
The 43 participating, and 15 observing member countries involved in creating the standards took the sensible approach of laying down best practices for innovation and defining what ‘good looks like’ within a truly innovative business. ISO provide guidance on the key elements needed to make up an Innovation Management System (IMS) and outline how an organisation should go about building and maintaining their IMS.
Simply put, the new series of International Standards does not prescribe an approach to innovation. Instead, it provides a framework for organisations to manage innovation and to get the best out of their ideas.
Only time will tell how many companies will fully align themselves to ISO 56000 (which does sit well alongside other standards such as ISO9001:2015 for Quality Management Systems), but this month’s release will generate much interest and debate around 'doing innovation properly'.
Most importantly, the launch of ISO56002 means we will have a truly global consensus for innovation best practice. This is long overdue and is critical if 'innovation for all' is to move beyond the hype and become a viable, measurable, and most importantly, core business process.