A study by EC, 'Innovation management and
knowledge-driven economy', aims at a comprehensive review of available
management methodologies designed to support
innovation, known as
innovation management techniques (IMTs).
Special criteria are employed to assess each of 26
IMTs with respect to its focus on knowledge economy drivers – the consideration
that lies at the heart of the study. The analysis permits the most relevant IMTs
to be grouped in ten different categories:
The practical application of the IMTs requires a
careful mix that takes into account the individual circumstances of each firm,
however. "It is very difficult to use any single IMT in isolation," explains
Antonio Hidalgo, the study's co-ordinator. "This is because of the way knowledge
spreads around a company – in
creative problem solving, for example. You have to identify the different
knowledge assets available to an enterprise in order to evaluate which IMTs it
should apply. We might select a range of
business creation tools to define a
business plan for a company. That same company can use
creativity development techniques to
come up with ideas, but it then has to
implement them, convert them into specific
products or services for the market.
At that stage it will need to apply other, complementary, IMTs.
"There are several IMTs to help
raise creativity levels amongst employees," he
continues. "A firm could conduct
brainstorming sessions to identify the most promising ideas and then set up
teams to develop specific projects.
Human resources management is also critical to the
and closely related to creativity development.
Diagnostic IMTs can be used to identify
new market opportunities.
to reduce the time lag between spotting a gap in the market and actually
Making It Happen
The introduction of IMTs requires investment of
time and management
commitment, more than additional finances.
Firms are often
reluctant to change.
"It is crucial that they understand the advantages
of applying these techniques, which are often long-term, and not immediately
obvious," says Hidalgo. The study singles out four agents as the main drivers of
the innovation management culture ‒ academic centres, business schools,
consultancy firms and business support organisations (BSOs).
These agents are found to be largely responsible for promoting and developing
innovation management methodologies. For instance, the Belgian BSO, EFQM,
promotes a specific model of management and innovation through its 'EFQM
Excellence Model'. This provides firms with a platform of
good practice and
benchmarking tools to facilitate self-assessment and the discovery of
Another example from Scotland's Glasgow Business School helps companies to apply
IMTs that produce measurable results – which typically means
more customers and
It applies different tools to meet different needs, particularly
and benchmarking, and teaches its client how to apply them properly.
"The results of implementing IMTs are difficult to measure, but some mechanisms
do exist," says Hidalgo. "Impacts usually take the form of improved
financial results, such as a better return on investment. More new products
may also be brought to market in a