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More focus, more success – measure and manage your company’s innovation system

  • Publisert 19.02.2013
Why aren’t we successful internationally? That was one of the question the Icelandic engineering company Mannvit answered through their participation in the Measured and Managed Innovation (MMI) programme.

- When I came back from the last MMI-conference in Copenhagen I said to my colleagues: Hey, have you heard about partnership innovation? Everybody talks about innovation through partnerships. That was our tipping point. We were considering why we weren’t successful internationally. The answer was right in front of us. We lacked trust outside of Iceland and a possible way to get trust abroad is by partnership, says Tryggvi Jónsson, Director of Infrastructure at Mannvit, at the final conference for the MMI-programme. 


Partnership innovation is one of the 12 dimensions in the Innovation

    Picture of Tryggvi Jonsson, Director for Infrastructure at Mannvit, at the MMI Final Conference.
 

  Partnership is a way to trust,
  said Tryggvi Jónsson, Mannvit. 

Radar - the tool used in MMI to get a visual overview of companies’ current innovation focus. The tool is developed by professors from Kellogg School of Management and has been used in the USA on a significant amount of companies to assess and develop innovation strategies. The Innovation Radar calculates a radar profile of the company’s innovation focus and efforts relative to its competition based on individual assessment from a minimum of 6-8 different managers from each company. In the Nordics, Nordic Innovation and national partners introduced the radar through the Measured and Managed Innovation programme (MMI), and all together 800 participants from 100 companies has been a part of the programme. The companies differs in size and industry and represents all together over 125.000 employees.

 

Focus makes you stronger

But why should companies work with business model innovation?

 

- It’s about the mindset, explains Jørn Bang Andersen, senior innovation adviser at Nordic Innovation. And according to the results from MMI, it has made a difference. 

 

- There has been a change in the participating companies, from having low focus and low effort on innovation towards having high focus and high effort. When we started in 2010 only 4 % had high focus and high effort. Today this number has increased to 23 %, says Andersen. 

 

One of the goals for MMI has been to strengthen Nordic companies’ innovation capability, and one indicator for this is the degree of focus. If you are all over the places and try to innovate in all direction, the chance of succeeding is low. If you instead focus your effort on some areas or dimensions, the chance of success increases.

 

Other dimensions in the future?

- Our time series analysis has revealed that the companies do not focus on the dimensions that they say they will, says Hans Christian Bjørne, project leader for MMI and senior innovation adviser at Nordic Innovation. 

 

He explains that in 2010, two out of three companies had a primary focus on offering innovation, while only half said they would favor this dimension in the future. When the measurement was made again in 2012, as many as 80 % had primary innovation focus on offering, while only  half of these said that this would be their most important area for the future innovation.

 

- It seems like something has happened with the mindset of the companies. Even though emphasis on offering innovation has increased, at least the companies acknowledge a need to focus more on other innovation dimensions in the future to create new value for the firm and its customers. It might be that many companies are hung up in a product development process which needs to be finished   before they can lift other dimensions, like e.g. customer experience. Many companies are also struggling to move from traditional product and process improvements to the development of new business models and ways of interacting with partners and customers, says Bjørne. 

 

Nordic companies less focused on partnership innovation than USA companies 

What about the differences between the neighboring countries? On a country level Sweden has seen a shift in downgrading offering and upgrading management dimensions from 2010 to 2012. The Finnish companies had a high effort within offering and partnership. Iceland experienced great consistency in focus over time, yet higher focus on value capture after participation in the MMI-program. Among the Norwegian companies there was consistently high focus on product and process innovation through the program. The last country, Denmark, has gone from a high focus on product and solution to a more balanced mix between the dimensions.  

 

Because the Innovation radar has been used in the US on a significant amount of companies it’s possible to benchmark the result form MMI with the US. Compared to American companies, the participating Nordic companies are clearly more biased towards offering innovation, while American companies focus more on partnership innovations. Generally US companies favor the partnership dimension higher than we do in the Nordics. We’re more biased for product innovation.

 

Score more goals

If we look at the participating companies evaluation of the MMI-program 71% show a high degree of satisfaction. While 65 % of the companies think that MMI has contributed significantly in spotting underdeveloped business areas. The results also clearly shows that MMI has had a high impact on raising internal awareness of innovation in the companies (81 %). 

 

- We are highly satisfied with the results of the MMI-program internally at Nordic Innovation, and to receive the same feedback from the companies is a proof of the importance of business model innovation. It’s the way forward, and it’s more robust and usable than a traditional product innovation focus, says Bjørne. 

 

The Icelandic company Mannvit, Iceland’s largest engineering firm with 400 employees, has changed their organization to be more successful internationally because of the MMI-programme. 

 

- We had a kind of defensive organization. It was pretty much like the Icelandic football team. We had six guys in defense and maybe one guy in attack, but that was just partly because he was going forth and back. So we couldn’t except to score many goals. To get a more attacking organization we appointed three marketing managers, said Jónsson, who states that MMI really helped them in changing the company. 

 

More into softer dimensions 

- One of the reason for Nordic Innovation to start the MMI-program was to contribute with insights and inputs to the Nordic countries’ innovation policies and support systems, said Andersen. 

 

Through the process Nordic Innovation has gained valuable insights, and Andersen highlights especially that the innovation agencies and institutions should consider to calibrate support programmes into softer dimensions and low focus areas, like partnership and customer innovation. 

 

- Today many innovation support programmes are somewhat stuck in a techno product oriented paradigm, states Andersen. 

 

To the companies Bjørne has some final recommendations: Experiment more with partnership-led innovation and try to develop capabilities for open innovation. Involving relevant stakeholders from suppliers to distributors and engaging your customers may take you further faster. He also recommends the companies to think more about business model led innovation and less about product led innovation.

 

- If you do this, then you increase your chance for growth, Bjørne says as a final remark.  

 

Low focus: The Innovation Radar tool measures each company’s level of innovation focus across 12 business dimensions. Low focus in this context means that the companies are spreading their innovation resources across multiple areas, instead of focusing in on selected dimensions. 
[2] The Innovation Radar tool measures each company’s effort level, judged relative to its competitors. The effort level is calculated as the sum of innovation efforts across all dimensions, relative to competition. 
Offering innovation: Offering innovation is one of the four macro-dimenstions of the radar, encompassing innovations related to Products, Platforms and Sollutions. For a full overview of the radar dimensions see the programme’s final report page 16-19. 

 

 

Explanations:


Low focus: The Innovation Radar tool measures each company’s level of innovation focus across 12 business dimensions. Low focus in this context means that the companies are spreading their innovation resources across multiple areas, instead of focusing in on selected dimensions. 



Low effort: The Innovation Radar tool measures each company’s effort level, judged relative to its competitors. The effort level is calculated as the sum of innovation efforts across all dimensions, relative to competition. 


Offering innovation: Offering innovation is one of the four macro-dimenstions of the radar, encompassing innovations related to Products, Platforms and Sollutions. For a full overview of the radar dimensions see the programme’s final report page 16-19. 

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About MMI

 

The Measured and Managed Innovation 
Programme (MMI) introduces a strategic approach 
to innovation management. Helping  nordic 
companies measure and focus their innovation 
efforts, increase their return on innovation and 
become more competitive.
The programme is developed by  nordic 
Innovation, in cooperation with the national 
innovation agencies in the nordic region: Tekes, 
Vinnova, Danish  enterprise and Construction 
authority, Danish agency for Science, Technology 
and Innovation, Trade Council Denmark, 
Innovation Center Iceland (IMPra), Innovation 
norway and the  norwegian  research Council. 
The programme is carried out during the period of 
2010 – 2012, with  participation from 100 nordic 
companies

The Measured and Managed Innovation Programme (MMI) introduces a strategic approach to innovation management. Helping  nordic companies measure and focus their innovation efforts, increase their return on innovation and become more competitive.

 

The programme is developed by nordic Innovation, in cooperation with the national innovation agencies in the nordic region: Tekes, Vinnova, Danish  enterprise and Construction authority, Danish agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, Trade Council Denmark, Innovation Center Iceland (IMPra), Innovation norway and the  norwegian  research Council. The programme is carried out during the period of 2010 – 2012, with  participation from 100 nordic companies