Since my background is the science of language – linguistics – I always try to be as precise as possible when it comes to communicating our concepts to the market and our customers. I can tell you, terminology is not an easy job. You can see what I mean with a few quick online searches of innovation management, innovation, innovation process, new product development, and you will find many more terms tied to product innovation and related terms. There are so many perspectives, so many focus areas and yet no standardization because it is still a nascent field for business and research. It is quite easy to become conceptually confused. Innovation management can cover a broad range of business processes and many areas of an organization or even its ecosystem. Because “innovation” is a broad concept – you can innovate any object – a process, a product, a technology, a service, a building, a plant, a machine or any business function like transportation, procurement, resource management, etc. The innovation agenda of a company can include many different initiatives, of which R&D very often is only a small part from an investment perspective.
As I mentioned, I am perhaps a little biased by my linguistic background and so I always try to be precise. I know that vague and unambiguous terminology can lead to vague projects because different conceptual expectations lead ultimately to a great deal of discussion and often to frustration. Therefore, I will always try to get to a clear definition of terms when we start working together. In fact, we use a kind of assessment method that should give us complete clarity about what a company really wants to achieve when they are looking for innovation improvement. Which of the processes do they want to improve first, which ones later? For examples: the innovation planning process or the portfolio prioritization process or the product development process or the after launch process or perhaps the resource allocation process or the ideation process or the plant innovation process (Capex projects) or the marketing processes or the brand development processes? Or perhaps a combination of these? Many options.
Having an agreed and consolidated lexicon of terms will really help. Over the coming weeks and with that goal in mind, I will touch upon some of these terms in future posts.