Innovation Management ? Isolating Problems and Implementing Solutions

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Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.

There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

Isolating problems and implementing solutions

The five stages above are separate and distinct, yet there is sometimes a feeling that there is more of an overlap than in fact there is:

a) Problem identification is just that. But it requires a wide variety of individuals to make good decisions. For example, end-users see problems differently from sales, who see problems differently from technicians and designers, who in turn see problems differently from sales and marketing, who see problems differently from finance and strategists, who see problems differently from warehouse managers etc.

b) Idea generation is also self-explanatory, but requires a wide range of diverse and novel people to truly arrive at good ideas. And then leaders have t be aware of organisational culture, structure, team structures and much more to optimise idea-generating sessions.

c) Idea selection, as above requires the a wide range of diverse and novel people and a good understanding of evaluation procedures, as this si really the first filter until this batch of ideas moves into development.

d) Development is often confused with the last stage, but is separate. It is where the ideas that will become development programmes are chosen. The Economist (2003b) states that 3000 bright ideas are needed for 100 worthwhile projects, which in turn will be winnowed down to four development programmes for new products. And four such development programmes are the minimum needed to stand any chance of getting one winner.

e) Commercialisation is the final stage. It includes marketing strategy, design, pricing strategies and so forth.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on

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