What does an innovation management consultancy actually do? 4 common misconceptions and how to set the record straight.

What does an innovation management consultancy actually do? I hear this question a lot. Not everyone gets it immediately, and that’s fine. Here are some frequently asked questions and how I address them.

 

Innovation management is just a fancy name for brainstorming, and what you’re offering just another design thinking session.

Although adopting and applying different creative methodologies (including design thinking and brainstorming) plays a big role in the innovation process, it’s far from being the only thing needed to innovate.

Being creative and thinking of new ideas is perhaps the most exciting step, but it’s exactly that – a single step! There is a whole journey to take to reach the part where benefits are generated, and it includes hard work, limited resources and careful considerations.

Innovation management consultancies help you understand, plan, set up, run and optimize that journey, and that’s where we can contribute the most. To be fair, we can teach you some creative methodologies as well. 😉

 

You’re here to give us ideas, or even judge our ideas, and yet you can’t possibly know enough about our business, our challenges and our goals.

Innovation management consultancies are not usually in the business of creating ideas. It’s more of a job for our big sisters, the business and management consultancies.

We create the innovation infrastructure, processes and tools that allow you to easily capture ideas from anyone, within the company of outside of the company. However, if we actually come up with an idea that makes sense, we will happily share it with you.

Judging is a strong word. Ideas are evaluated – not only on how much it would cost to implement them or what their impact would be, but also against the company’s current context. An idea might be a bad fit in the market today, but could do wonders for the company in the future. We help you define and implement the evaluation models that work for you, but you will have to do the hard (and fun!) work of evaluating the ideas.

After all, it is absolutely true – you know your business, your challenges and your problems better than anyone else!

 

Don’t you sell some kind of exciting product or technology? Or do you want us to hire you to develop one for us?

A disappointingly large percentage of companies that sell “innovation”, are not really selling innovation FOR their customers. They are selling innovation TO their customers. Yes, of course it’s a matter of perspective!

A 3D printer is a great invention and an innovative solution to many production problems. And while it brings enormous value in a toy manufacturing plant (and can therefore be considered innovation), it has little or no use (i.e. creates no value) in a software development company.

Innovation management is a different ball game. We don’t develop AI models, resell cloud computing, create metaverses or 3D print machine parts. We do apply our knowledge, experience and industry standards like ISO 56000 to help you set up all the key components of your innovation framework and build your innovation practice. We let you choose how to implement the innovative ideas, and which technology, vendors and partners best fit you.

Full disclosure: A part of our typical service is scaling the innovation practice, processes and models across an organization. For that purpose, we deploy and configure powerful innovation platforms (like Qmarkets), which are key to covering the end-to-end innovation lifecycle. Think of it this way: An innovation process requires innovation software, just like a procurement process requires a procurement software. It’s a necessary component in a complex innovation engine.

 

It sounds like you’re charging us good money for something we can do ourselves. Why should we hire you at all?

In many ways, innovation management is just like finance, sales, procurement or any other business function. It’s governed by some common business rules, but also comes loaded with specific and unique challenges.

Innovating is by default a risky business. It’s not rocket science, but it isn’t that simple to get it right in the first attempt, and very difficult to be given another chance. Innovation management consultancies use their knowledge, experience and methodologies to mitigate those inherent risks and increase your innovation’s survival chance.

Innovation management consultancies are also helpful to companies with well-established and mature innovation practices. As they grow, companies need a bit of outside help to overcome the lack of experienced resources and other challenges typical for the expansion phases. Good innovation managers are hard to find. We jump in when you need us, and jump out when you’re back on your feet. Everybody happy.

Finally, we do expect to be paid for our services. Whether it’s “good money” or not, is a matter of perspective. What we all can (and will) ultimately agree on is that we bring “good value” through our services, and that’s where the focus should be.

 

If you think running a successful innovation practice is expensive, you should try running a failed one. Or even worse – no innovation practice at all.