APQC’s 10 Best Practices for Innovation – Part 1

Distinguish among different types of innovation

The three best-practice organizations recognize that not all innovations are the same. These organizations consider the reach and potential gains associated with each innovation to develop tailored strategies. Unique processes, resources, and vocabularies may be applied to specific innovations and innovation types.

For example, Kennametal groups its innovations into three categories: defend and extend (incremental innovations); adjacent (innovations falling between incremental and radical); and new innovations (radical or disruptive innovations).

Each category of innovation has its own drivers and development process.

IBM aims to maintain a balanced portfolio of current products and emerging product opportunities. It has established an emerging business opportunities model with three levels. Each level has its own timeline and set of metrics for evaluating the product opportunities.

Cast the net wide for ideas

Best-practice organizations do not limit innovation to within their own walls. The organizations studied by APQC obtain ideas for innovation from both internal and external sources.

IBM recognizes that innovative ideas may come from unlikely places. As such, the organization holds Idea Jams, or real-time, interactive brain storming events that occur over several days. During these events, IBM employees, external clients, and business partners provide insights from a wide range of perspectives. At the end of each Idea Jam, analytical tools are used to identify the most important topics of discussion.

Other opportunities for improvement

Of the 10 best practices for innovation identified by APQC, the first five challenge organizations to look beyond traditional boundaries for inspiration, support, and areas of focus for product and service innovation. IBM, Mayo Clinic, and Kennametal offer examples of these best practices in action.

In our next article, we’ll look at the final five best practices for innovation. These practices will address technology needs, freedom to experiment, and how to measure success in innovation.

Becky Partida is a knowledge specialist for APQC, a member-based nonprofit and one of the leading proponents of benchmarking and best practice business research. Working with more than 500 organizations worldwide in all industries, APQC focuses on providing organizations with the information they need to work smarter, faster, and with confidence. Every day we uncover the processes and practices that push organizations from good to great. Visit us at www.apqc.org and learn how you can make best practices your practices.