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A System for Successful Innovation

9 Areas for Designing a Successful Innovation System

Sporadic, individual initiatives …, good ideas that just don’t fit the company’s strategy …, ideas that get mired and then forgotten …, innovation projects as flashes in the pan … Does all that sound familiar to you? At the same time, you still have … wait …, do you even have an innovation system in your company? Not just an innovation department or an innovation process, but other important elements to ensure sustainable innovation success?

Find out what an innovation system looks like

The following examples and tips for your innovation environment will allow you to develop successful innovations faster. After all, every company already has an innovation system, even if you may not know it. Find out which elements already work well in your business and which elements don’t. Work on your ability to innovate and thus enhance innovation in your company!

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Ideas are not enough to create successful innovations

Ideas only develop into successful innovations when you approach them with a system. When innovation is handled in an enterprise without a system for innovation, the result is wasted time and effort. Like every new paradigm, a lot of things are tried out, as they should be: Lean Start-Up, Design Thinking, brainstorming. Time and again workshops are conducted on products, servitization, spaces, Trend Radar …

But after such meetings, you often feel a sense of helplessness. Who is going to implement these ideas?

Wasted time and effort cost companies a lot of money, and as a result, the really good ideas are not implemented with resounding success. Too few partners, a weak network, lack of knowledge, ideas getting watered down and burned out employees precisely where you need people seriously committed to the topic.

Strong innovation systems – the foundation for making innovations successful

Anyone who not only tries out innovation but also thinks on it and implements it to the very end with consistency understands that innovation is a system: a system that leads repeatably to success. Like the Business Model Canvas for business models, an innovation system consists of essential components. This will help identify your ability to innovate. You can see where you stand and where there is room for improvement.

The components interact with each other – as in every system. A strategy that targets new markets but excludes cooperation partners is likely to fail. The same is true if you attempt to create something new without sufficient knowledge, external impulses and networks.

Innovationssystem mit 9 Handlungsfeldern u.a. Culture, Project Management und Structure Network - TOM SPIKE

9 Areas for Creating Sustainable Innovation:

1. A Culture of innovation as the most valuable commodity for successful innovation

Apple Logo - Beispiel für innovative Werbebotschaft

Your company’s culture of innovation is by far the most important element of an innovation system. Its optimal design represents the overarching goal to be achieved when implementing innovation. The culture of innovation describes the existing values and behaviors of all employees in the company. Issues such as openness to new things, the courage – and permission – to fail, and trust are important elements in this. Most of the time, these elements have to be created or enhanced within the contexts of projects, knowledge transfer and knowledge development.

We recommend: Don’t try to apply a crowbar to your culture. Creating the culture is the final goal, not the first step. Start with structured projects so that values can be understood, created, formulated and imbued with life.Apple-Logo-think-different

Example: Apple’s encouraging advertising message “Think different” or Nike’s clear brand appeal (“Just do it”) are direct indications of the openness these corporate cultures value. They are clear statements on innovation.

2. Innovation project management is the foundation

Innovation represents a textbook project: unique, risky, involving diverse participants and limited resources. Focus on quickly and successfully completing projects in an area of innovation. Project management methods help to create the necessary discipline.

Mondlandung - Einsatz des Multigenerationsplans

Fast feedback sessions addressing prototypes will gain you important customer insights, and you will learn quickly and with agility. Such projects should not last longer than 6 months. Better only half that.

Our Tip: A multi-generational plan breaks down a big innovation leap into individual steps. The first step is the minimum viable product (MVP). Initial successes create confidence in the innovation process and form the basis for a growing culture of innovation.

Example: You can gain orientation from the multi-generation plan described in the book “Six Sigma + Lean Toolset” by Renata Meran, Alexander John, Christian Staudter and Olin Roenpage – this type of plan was also applied when planning the first moon landing.

3. Strengthen cooperation via internal structures and external networks

Successful innovation requires strong partners. Depending on your strategy, you can create such a network yourself or bring it together in cooperation with others. Shared, focused and diverse competencies make things proceed more quickly because you stay true to your own range of competencies and develop them further. Such partnerships can be strategically pursued in the form of business webs when each of the parties involved creates product components that complement each other. Every partner “sticks to what they know best”. But the successes of the participating companies – including your own – are closely linked. After all, customers are not interested in a product’s components but in the overall product resulting from them.

Our recommendation: Look for external strategic partners, if other companies already have a good command of the topic and, above all, if you do not have the necessary resources – i.e., the necessary funds – for expanding your field of expertise.

A classic example:  in the field of  Business Webs is still “WinTel”, the cooperative partnership formed by Microsoft and Intel with their respective focus on software or hardware.

4. …

All 9 Action Areas

What does the entire innovation system look like? Download the white paper (in German) now. Free.

Innovationsberater Thomas Nagel

Let us talk about your challenges, your “InnoScore” and recommendations for action. If you want to drive innovation in your company or are facing complex problems, we will be happy to assist you in our role as an Innovation Consulting Company. Our experienced team of innovation consultants will show you how to strengthen your innovative capability and find effective solutions in the shortest possible time.

Our Innovation Consultant Thomas Nagel is available to speak with you. Contact him: Tel: +49 30 – 89 64 72 09, E-Mail:

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