Innovation Management –
Creating a Successful Program

Jennifer Nietz - Director of Operations


A couple of months back I wrote about COACT’s journey for Performance Excellence and the use of the Baldrige Criteria and Framework to help guide us on the path of continuous improvement.  This past January, we have really started to dig into the criteria, and I am leading a group around the criteria on Operations.

One of our areas to review is around innovation management. The criteria asks:

“How do you manage for Innovation?  How do you pursue the strategic opportunities that you determine are intelligent risks? How do you make financial and other resources available to pursue these opportunities?”

So, as I was thinking about these criteria and what we have done in the past at COACT, I came across an interesting blog post on HYPE Innovation by Paul Hobcraft that talks about the integrated innovation framework. There is a common belief that there are gaps in innovation programs that exist and that innovation doesn’t proceed without a drive and engagement from senior leadership.  A little excerpt from Paul states:

“It continues to amaze me; actually, it is depressing that although our business leaders constantly confirm that innovation is in their top three priorities yet they stay stubbornly disengaged in facilitating this across their organizations, especially the larger ones.

It is our senior leaders within organizations that have the ability to:

  • Link innovation to strategy, and
  • Create focus, engagement and passion for innovation, and
  • Direct funds and resources to good innovation programs, and
  • Speed good ideas to market as new business models, products and services, and
  • Ensure the processes and relevant metrics exist so innovation is sustainable and integrated.

I tend to agree with this observation and position.  Senior leaders drive the innovations that exist within an organization. When you create an innovation management process, make sure you are including a step that sends ideas to the senior leadership level for review, and at the very least, inclusion in the ideas that are being collected.

Without inclusion of senior leadership, you are likely to extend the gap that may already exist in your innovation program.  And Paul further explains these gaps can be significant and negatively impact the organization in the following ways:

  • Poor execution of innovation goals;
  • Failure to achieve strategic goals;
  • Limited organizational design to sustain innovation;
  • The growth of disbelief or cynicism when innovation isn’t pursued.

So, a couple of takeaways to consider as you are looking at your innovation program:

  1. Develop an innovation process—if you don’t have an innovation plan, then develop one! Start today.
  2. Include senior leadership.
  3. Develop a feedback system or system of transparency; talk about and showcase the innovation that is happening.

I look forward to showcasing our innovations this year with you in upcoming newsletter editions and even better through your work with COACT.

Questions or comments? Please contact Jennifer Nietz at