A major player when it comes to innovation success is the proper integration of innovation management as well as the team members responsible. A company’s innovative success is contingent on where the position of Innovation Manager is integrated. Where and how that position is integrated is critical.

Innovation Manager Role

The Innovation Manager is tasked with being an enabler or an innovator.

If he is an enabler, he oversees framework conditions in order to promote innovation within the company. He also takes the necessary steps to increase the outcome of corporate innovation, including:

  • Development
  • Introduction of the innovative process
  • Collection of ideas
  • Shaping a company’s culture of innovation

If his designated task is to drive identified innovations to success, his role is that of project manager and innovator.

Depending on whether he is an enabler or innovator determines the context of his task as well as the innovation focus.

Innovation Focus

The Innovation Manager is responsible for the organizational structure of innovation, dealing with several aspects. The first is the subject of the innovation while the second is the ignition.

The subject of innovation could be a company’s business plan, a product that needs innovation, service, organization or production processes/technologies.

The next matter is the ignition, or what is causing the innovative process to move. This could be market-driven (a pull by the market) or technology-driven (pushed by changes in tech).

Specific product and ignition combinations determine the position of the Innovation Manager. Both the task and the focus are factors of content and should be docked where the highest successes can be achieved regarding the subject matter and technology processes.

Innovation Manager Features

How successful a company’s attempts at innovation management are very much dependent on the people – specifically those of the innovation team. A good Innovation Manager should possess the following skills:

  • Social understanding or competence.
  • Innovation competence, including project management and methodological competence.
  • Broad knowledge of underlying technologies pertaining to products and/or processes.
  • A solid understanding of the business and its logic.

Social issues are one of the most important areas of competence for Innovation Managers. Because of the variety of changes, innovations can generate resistance or uncertainty within organizations. Because of how innovation can impact the entire organization, social skills play an important role. Innovation managers must:

  • Be able to communicate and inspire as well as convince.
  • Be well connected.
  • Be able to think empathetically as well as entrepreneurially.
  • Be in a position of high acceptance within an organization.

Social competence is important because Innovation Managers are more often chosen not for their technical understanding but for their social understanding.

Another factor that plays into the selection of the person to fill the Innovation Manager role is the position within an organization – especially if you expect a lot of resistance to company innovations. In this case, the Innovation Manager role should be tasked to someone near the top. If your innovations are more technical, the task should be awarded to someone close to the technology.