To maximize the ROI of your innovation initiatives, it’s vital to gain input from as many sources as possible and ensure all departments take part in a culture of ideation. In this article, we explore the concept of Total Innovation Management (TIM) and how you can leverage it at your enterprise.

One of the most famous fables from India is ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant’. A group of blind villagers are informed that an Elephant has been captured. Having heard rumours about these strange beasts, the curious men go to inspect the Elephant. Each is invited to feel a separate part of the creature to get an idea of its shape. One man feels the trunk, concluding that the Elephant is a large snake while another, touching the ear, believes it has wings, and so on. Eventually, the men begin to suspect each other of dishonesty and a fight ensues – thus showing how limited subjective experience taken as absolute, can be a major cause of chaos.

The famous Indian fable ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant’ epitomizes how limited, subjective perspectives can hinder progress towards an overarching goal.

Despite originating in ancient India, this tale epitomizes one of the major factors that impedes corporate innovation. Too often, companies think of innovation in terms of disparate temporal projects, rather than as a holistic practice that should be permanently embedded within the organization’s DNA. By implementing total innovation management (TIM) practices, enterprises can ensure all projects – from developing products to improving processes – align with overarching objectives.

So, what is total innovation management? It’s the process of developing a synergy between technology, organization, and culture to develop ongoing innovation proficiency within an enterprise. To achieve this, companies must communicate a clear innovation strategy to employees, break down departmental silos, and give employees a means to submit their ideas.

In this article, we’ll outline three main practices of TIM to better address the Elephant in the room.

What is Total Innovation Management? - big picture1. Establish a ‘Big Picture’ Strategy

Following the rise of the internet in the 1990s, employees could contribute and collaborate around innovation projects with unparalleled ease. This, in turn, made the prospect of total innovation management a practical exercise for companies in all industries.

Today, the fundamental practice of TIM remains the same – setting a clear ‘big picture’ strategy to which corporate decision makers can direct the innovative energies of their employees. This strategy could be advancing digital transformation, adapting to a changing market, restructuring an organization to accommodate expansion, or any other large-scale objective. Once the big picture has been established, an organization can then conceptualized how various factors –technological capabilities, company culture, marketing strategies, etc. – can be harmonized effectively within it.

The Fast Forward Program, implemented by Philip Morris International, was designed to involve multiple levels of the company within the innovation process in order to create a smoke free future for the company.

A great example of a company leveraging TIM for a big-picture objective is offered by Philip Morris International. Despite being the world’s most successful cigarette company, PMI recognized the necessity of fundamentally changing its business model to create a smoke-free future. As such, PMI implemented an innovation management platform to align all departments and reshape company culture to address this radical goal.

What is Total Innovation Management? - amplify2. Amplify Idea Generation

You can’t address the question ‘what is total idea management’ without emphasising the importance of crowdsourcing ideas. Ideas are the life blood of innovation, and TIM involves casting as wide a net as possible to ensure employees from all departments have an easy means to put suggestions forward. It’s important to remember that often the best ideas emerge from the most unlikely sources.

Enterprise companies should target as many sources as possible to promote idea generation.

Aside from producing breakthrough new products and services, involving varied audiences in idea generation can help promote the kind of synergy required for TIM. For example, a proposal from the IT department for a new database could have implications for sales, HR, and other departments. By allowing members of these departments to comment on the initial idea, it can be built upon to better accommodate employee needs – thus improving efficiency. An idea management platform can be indispensable for promoting this kind of interdepartmental co-creation.

What is Total Innovation Management? - culture3. Nurture a Creative Culture

Maintaining employee engagement is critical for TIM. Every member of the organization should feel they have a stake in the innovation process and be excited about pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible. Founding a culture that rewards innovation, encourages risk taking, and sparks creativity, is pivotal in this respect.

This infographic by Brian Solis details 12 key components that make up a productive and scalable innovation ecosystem.

To sustain a creative culture that supports intrapreneurship, consistent awareness needs to be maintained around innovation efforts. This means developing a communication strategy that keeps employees informed about their obligations, and giving them a stimulating means to contribute ideas. Leveraging the competitive spirit of employees can help support this culture. For example, in 2014 the U.S Department of Health and Human Services launched “Shark Tank” style competitions, in which employee teams pitched ideas for internal improvements.

What is Total Innovation Management? - harnessingHarnessing the Power of TIM

Now that we’ve answered the question ‘what is total innovation management’, and addressed the key practices associated with it, the next important question to ask is ‘how can TIM be implemented at my enterprise?’ Dedicated innovation management software can be pivotal in this respect. It can provide a means for companies to create a hub in which all innovation projects can be assigned, monitored, developed, and tracked to ensure ROI is achieved. What’s more, an innovation management system is ideal for sustaining the kind of culture where game-changing ideas can thrive.

For example, with Qmarkets’ innovation management software, enterprise companies can develop and monitor new ideas from inception to implementation, whilst also giving employees a simple, engaging way to take part in the company’s innovation culture. In addition to innovation management – the software also provides a centralized location in which an enterprise can manage design thinking, tech scouting, continuous improvement initiatives, and more.

The rapidly growing popularity of innovation management tools reflect their increasing importance. According to a recent global forecast, the innovation management market is projected to reach 1,519.2 million USD by 2022. As of 2017, the market was worth 421.6 million – indicating a compound annual growth rate of 29.2%.

Although total innovation management may seem like an elephantine task, and admittedly it can be a complicated methodology to comprehensively implement, an incredibly effective way to futureproof your enterprise. And don’t forget, an innovation management system will give you the best possible perspective when it comes to capturing, developing, and launching groundbreaking ideas.

Read more: Learning from German Idea and Innovation Management Best Practices