Integrating Innovation into the PM Process: Finding a Practical Framework

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

What does it take to be innovative? Can anyone innovate, or is it reserved to only those who are creative, resourceful and visionary? Is innovation a process, or is it driven by inspired insight?

For me, the answer to these questions is yes. An innovation is an outcome that solves elusive problems and challenges, or creates value in a new way. For example, discovering how to create alternating current (Tesla), developing commercially viable electric cars (Musk), printing in 3D (Kodama & Hull) and breaking the sound barrier (Bell Aircraft) are examples of innovation.

Innovation does not have to be limited to products and gadgets. Innovation can result in ways to improve processes—ways of thinking and doing. And while some people seem to be naturally innovative, there are ways to increase your (or your team’s) chances of finding innovative solutions—even if you or your team does not possess the innovation gene. (In fact, as can be found in the “Additional Reading and Resources” section of this article below, the ideas and frameworks are abundant.)

Innovation is often born out of necessity, and other times by accident. Consider Post-it Notes, which were invented by accident by Spencer Silver. While trying to develop a super strong adhesive for use in the aerospace industry, Spencer accidentally managed to create an incredibly weak, …

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