Microsoft Innovation Process Management (IPM) Initiative

I spent the last week in NY speaking at the WWD Retail Leadership Forum on Innovation Process Management.

Among Retailers, innovation traditionally has been a compartmentalized, top-down process run by a small team. In my discussions with retailers at the conference I also found that one of the biggest challenges in the way of Innovation was Legacy. Every company has a legacy. Its the belief that "That which made you great will continue to make you great". The legacy tends to consume a majority of the firms resources. The legacy creates a system that fights off any ideas which are tangential to the legacy. How much time and resource would your management provide you if you had a great idea? As a result of the legacy issues we are seeing more of our customers establish separate processes one for incremental innovation to support the legacy and one for radical innovation.

The rapid spread and high availability of collaborative technologies has changed that model. It is now widely recognized that the next great breakthrough in products, services and processes can come from people anywhere inside or outside an organization. Several organizations including Dell and Starbucks have realized this and created sites and tools to tap into ideas from their customers.

The challenges of innovation are not new.  As we look back over the last 90 years of business we see that a mere 2% of companies outperform the market over long periods of time.  Innovate or die is a reality.

The tools in itself will not help organizations become innovative. An organizational culture that is focused on innovation and encourages employees to share their ideas will benefit from tools that help streamline the process. The tool should enable:

  • Capturing Ideas at any time. An employee should have ready templates or tools (such as Infopath forms or OneNote Templates) to quickly capture an idea.

  • Submitting Ideas and Socializing them using tools such as Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server. The tool should also enable people to find information and potential collaborators to work together on refining the idea.

  • Take the idea through a workflow process from concept to reality. The Workflow capabilities in Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server support this requirement.

See EPMConnect for more details on this initiative.

Charles Leadbetter on Innovation

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