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An Innovation Manager Is An Innovation Scout

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series The Twelve Hats of an Innovation Manager

In the next post in our series The Twelve Hats Of An Innovation Manager, we want to show you how an innovation manager wears a scouting hat during their day-to-day activities.

An innovation manager understands that not all ideation and innovation can come from internal resources such as in-house R&D Departments, products, services, business models, or other processes.

That is why a good innovation manager often puts on their scouting hat. It gives them the opportunity to open up their idea-seeking outside the walls of their own company. As an innovation scout, the manager utilises open innovation best practices.

What is open innovation?

A good innovation manager practices “open innovation” where necessary. They rely on multiple external sources of information to inform their innovation discovery. To leverage information that is external to the company, the innovation manager can partake in any or all of the following types of scouting:

  • Pour through customer data and feedback from customers;
  • Scan through published patents in similar industries;
  • Study what competitors are doing;
  • Study and harness the power of new technologies and softwares; or,
  • Purchase research or expertise from agencies.

Open innovation is an excellent method of expanding an organisation’s capabilities. It is an important technique used by innovation managers in their toolkit.

Inflows and outflows of innovation

Henry Chesbrough, who helped coin the term “open innovation” describes the process as involving ins and outs of new ideas. Sometimes, it is advantageous to share innovative concepts developed internally with the outside world. This type of open innovation is called “inside-out” innovation and it happens when a company shares a new concept or product idea with the outside world.

The most common reason for this occurrence is when an organisation comes up with a new idea that does not suit the business need. If, say, a chemical manufacturer comes up with a new polymer that could benefit products outside the company’s business model, it could look into exporting that innovation to others. This can be done through patenting and licensing or in some form of trade with another organisation.

It is all part of the innovation scouting that a manager must perform to identify new opportunities for bringing in (and outsourcing) innovation.

…. for more in our series on The Twelve Hats Of An Innovation Manager, check out our blog.

Series Navigation<< The Innovation Manager Is An Organisational DeveloperAn Innovation Manager Is a Product Developer >>

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