A recent interview on Textile World’s website had EDANA’s Scientific & Technical Affairs Director, Marines Lagemaat, asking question of keynote speaker Omar Hoek, executive vice president at Ahlstrom-Munksjö.
They were speaking about how difficult it is to manage innovation and many companies used a stage-gate process. Mr. Hoek commented that the desire to manage using a stage-gate process came from wanting a clear predictable target and trying to organize efforts around current business infrastructure: structural, budgeting and accountability.
Also, he said that today we see many different types of innovation: fast pace and sometimes slow-paced, random behaviors, existing versus new technology, with or without external partners and more. “ It gets very complex,” he stated, “to make a one size fits all model for … innovation.”
It’s true that business loves predictability and structure. Innovations are often “revolutionary” or disruptive and so appears at odds with predictable core systems and structure. But nothing is further from the truth. Innovators love to take things that appear to be at odds and create synergies. That’s one of the things I love most about innovation.
So what do I mean?
I recently spoke on the topic of using innovation in the new product development process. During the talk, I compared a waterfall process with a stage-gate process with an agile process and then using innovation with any of these business structures. The wonderful thing about innovation is that by its very nature it is a set of tools and techniques that resolves issues, reduces mistaken assumptions, finds greater uses for resources, and drives towards business synergies.
And it does not matter whether your company is entrepreneurial, process-oriented, creative or risk-averse, quality-focused, customer-driven or driven to lower costs. Innovation fits all cultures. It is a methodology that aligns easily with other business structures and works well with other current tools.
It does not need to replace what is currently in force; it supports. It can help dissolve resistances when system inter-dependencies are in direct conflict, it can anticipate failures, and resolve constraints in process, cost, reliability, quality, test, compliance and regulatory issues or other events while improving performance.
EDANA is the international association for the nonwovens and related industries though committees, programs and events designed to bring the industry together.