Answer a simple question — can you list all your responsibilities as an innovation manager in less than a minute? No way, right? You are the captain sailing the ship of innovation, and this involves a million different tasks! From idea generation to product development — you are in charge of the entire innovation lifecycle. Just like you, we cannot list ALL the roles of an innovation manager. But we can explore some of the most critical ones — let’s get into it!
Critical Roles of an Innovation Manager
1. Weaving Innovation Strategies
Strategic thinking is one of the strongest pillars of successful innovation management. So, after collecting ideas from various sources such as your open innovation process, you need to plan out an innovation strategy. This involves screening the ideas, evaluating their priority, and analyzing the scope, opportunities, and value that they bring to the table. Besides, you have to scrutinize the strengths, weaknesses, and possible future risks associated with them, all while keeping in mind the vision of the challenge you want to solve.
2. Taking Risks
Innovation risks are inevitable. This includes financial risks, risk of imitation, reputational risks, operational risks, and more. While you cannot eliminate them completely, preventing and mitigating them is in your hands. For example, evaluate the company’s financial bandwidth before allotting a budget for product development and brainstorm with the financial department and R&D team to anticipate probable financial bottlenecks. So, when you face such adversities, you will be prepared to tackle the situation head-on.
3. Predicting the Future
If you want to bring about game-changing innovations, you have to be a futurist and an absolute technology freak! You cannot afford to miss out on current technology trends disrupting the market. Moreover, to stay ahead of the curve, your innovation strategy needs to incorporate these future technologies and market trends into your own organization. For that, conduct thorough trend research to analyze and evaluate the impact of these future trends. Spoiler: we know that anticipating future trends is no child’s play! So, to make the technology hunt easier, more time-efficient, and streamlined, we offer a data-driven trend intelligence solution. Do check it out!
4. Driving Continuous Improvement
Innovation is dynamic and so should your team be. Hence, an innovation manager also manages the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP). Legendary industrialist Henry Ford had rightly said — “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” So, as a driver of innovation, you cannot stay the same. Instead, focusing on continuous improvement is one of the crucial roles of an innovation manager. To retain your company’s productivity and success in the long run, you must introduce regular small-scale enhancements to your internal processes. You can do this by identifying the areas that have room for improvement and layout a strategic execution plan.
Check out what Steve Jobs had to say about continuous improvement: