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Process for Innovation

| On 05, Sep 2007

Praveen Gupta

About two weeks ago, I attended the Process of Innovation conference in Chicago, organized by IQPC. Among so many conferences on innovation, this was the first attempt to learn more about the process of innovation. There were some  lessons to be learned from excellent presentations at the conference.

The first day of the conference appeared more like a Six Sigma conference because most of the presenters were Six Sigma professionals. We were wondering whether it was a Six Sigma conference or the Process of Innovation conference. It proved a point that Six Sigma and innovation are not two conflicting disciplines as commonly communicated in the media recently. Six Sigma drives innovation that was the original intent and a major tenet of Six Sigma, i.e., improve dramatically through innovation not through process tweaks. Thus, the presentation on first day explored role of innovation, and its relationship with Six Sigma, integration with the current improvement initiatives, and positioning innovation in an organization as well as gaining management buy in.

As the conference progressed, more presentations focused on acts of innovation such as room for innovation, measures of innovation, customer involvement in the innovation process, creating environment for customer engagement in the innovation process, and even exploring the innovation itself. Interestingly, the last presentation was about the idea management that demonstrated how various aspects of idea management can be successfully implemented. The excellence in idea management being the last presentation turned out to be the perfect ending as it really could be the beginning of any next conference on process for innovation. Seeing innovation evolving off the Six Sigma effort was an interesting and reaffirming phenomenon, and the conference demonstrated that there is a lot more to learn about the process of innovation.

We all understand that innovation begins with an idea, thus excellence in idea management must be a critical success factor. However, only a handful of corporations are pursuing excellence in idea management. Why don’t we listen to our employees for their ideas? That itself could be a major innovation in corporations.

What do you think about managing ideas in your corporation? Are employees encouraged to give ideas? Do all employee ideas have to be implemented? You are invited to share your experience with your ideas at your work.