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Learning from German Idea and Innovation Management Best Practices

In my years of consulting and visiting companies I realized that many companies have differences in understanding and implementing an Innovation Management system. So here is a short description of the Idea and Innovation Management landscape in Germany, as well as some “insider tips” on how to make the most out of your idea & innovation initiative:

  1. The difference between Idea Management and Innovation Management in Germany:

Idea Management in Germany is divided into traditional “BVW” (betriebliches Vorschlagswesen) and “KVP” (kontinuierlicher Verbesserungsprozess – similar or equal to KAIZEN):

  • The “BVW” is the traditional way of running Idea Management in Germany. It started over 140 years ago and from then slowly began to take its place in the companies. It has developed from a physical letterbox (which some companies still use today) into modern and intuitive Idea Management Software. Some of the main features are that the employees cannot see the ideas of the others (so open discussion is not possible), it has a specific workflow (which includes a review committee) and the implementation of the suggestion is rewarded with a monetary incentive to the submitter.
  • The “KVP” is a separate or additional part of the Idea Management in Germany. In difference to the “BVW” the main focus lies here more on workshops with the employees. In these workshops the employees can form a “team” to analyze, discuss and develop ideas and then create an implementation plan for improvement suggestions and solutions.

Innovation Management and what happens after the ideas are generated and collected?

  • Innovation Management has the task to pick up the ideas that are “ready” for implementation and follow a workflow until they are implemented. Usually this workflow is based on a specific “Stage-Gate” Innovation Management process within the company.

Broadly speaking, with an Idea and Innovation Management system you can collect ideas of employees (and or clients but then we are talking about “Open Innovation”), manage them, pick the “right ones” up and manage/handle the implementation.

 

  1. The NEW Idea & Innovation Management

More recently, technological development has facilitated a new form of idea management, which is slowly being adopted by German companies. This approach involves implementing a community where employees and/or clients can see the ideas of others and are also allowed to like, comment or even work together on them. The benefit of a specific Idea and Innovation Management collaboration software is also that people from different time zones and places or even with different competences can work on the same ideas or challenges. As a result the value of the idea could grow much faster than if only one submitter is working on it.

 

Idea management in Germany

  1. Why should you use business or strategy consultants in the project?

A good and intuitive Idea and Innovation Management Software is important – but what will cause employees to use the software and to make improvement suggestions?

This is a very significant part and that’s where business and strategy consultants should assist you.

The IDEA & INNOVATION CONSULTING – principles

In times of digitalization, new technologies, fast moving markets etc. the business and strategy consultants assist you with specific consulting services and principles in the conception, realization and implementation of an efficient and effective Idea and Innovation Management system for your company.

 

5 Insider Tips:

  1. Make a clear Idea and Innovation Management Process for your company: how do you want to collect the ideas, manage them and complete implementation?
  2. Define the usage of the software: in which part of the Idea and Innovation Management should the Software support you?
  3. Work with business and strategy consultants: find main factors to get benefits from your Idea and Innovation Management. How does your corporate culture influence the project? How can you increase the acceptance of your employees and raise improvement suggestions?
  4. Set monetary and non-monetary rewards: what do employees (and/or clients) get, if they participate in the Idea and Innovation Management?
  5. Control and Follow-up in “long-term”: an Idea and Innovation Management project is not a short-term activity. Sometimes you will gain benefits only after a longer period so be patient and have continuous improvement in mind. And in the whole process please do not forget to inform your users regularly about if an idea is submitted, when it goes to the next “step” and whether it is implemented or even rejected etc.

In summary, it can be said that the more time a company spends developing its Idea and Innovation Management initiative – the more it can gain benefits, find improvement potentials and implement them.

Ivan Jovic is the owner and founder of the company “IDEA & INNOVATION CONSULTING” which is based in Stuttgart (Germany) and offers international consulting services. 

Qmarkets works with Ivan, and a host of other consulting partners across the globe to deliver innovation solutions to leading organizations. Contact Qmarkets to consult with our experts and discover how your enterprise can innovate and transform ideas into results!

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