Fabian Bernhard, Professor of Management at EDHEC Business School, introduces us to his newly published book, Innovation Management – Perspectives from Strategy, Product, Process and Human Resources Research. The book aims to develop knowledge and skills in innovation management and contribute to a more sustainable business environment.
A unique aspect of this book is that it looks at some of the very latest, contemporary features of innovation management. Rather than giving an overall picture of the topic, it hones in on practices and research on a number of topical issues in the main areas of innovation management, such as strategic innovation management, human-resource innovation management, product innovation management and process innovation management. The book aims to enhance the knowledge of students, academics and professionals alike in terms of developing skills in key areas of innovation management. It targets those aspects of innovation that contribute to the stimulation and growth of a sustainable business environment. Another important aspect of the book is its diversity and internationality. It offers insights from the US, Denmark, Brazil, France, Lithuania and Japan.
How would you define innovation management? What does it involve?
In the book, we look at innovation management as a winning strategy that “gets the right things” (product innovation) by “getting things right” (process innovation) thanks to “the right people” (human resources).
There are a number of aspects to innovation management. First of all, it is essential to grasp the business opportunities that are presented in a given environment, to learn from fast-changing environments and to turn uncertainty into opportunity. Second, top management, mid-level management, innovation officers, R&D managers and even front-line personnel must be part of the learning organization, to accumulate and share new knowledge and turn it into valuable assets. Thirdly, sufficient attention must be paid to value creation and value capture through collaborative innovation.
Could you expand a bit on the importance of human management resources?
To make innovation happen, continuous investment in people is critical. No matter how advanced an organization’s technology, in an ever-changing environment, it will eventually be outdated and need to be adapted in a timely manner. Thus, in the end, all innovation boils down to is people who can make this type of change happen.Those who attract the best talent, keep them motivated and offer them an inspirational environment will harvest the fruits of that innovation.
The book looks at innovation management from a global perspective. Did you find a lot of differences between countries?
The book’s international research approach explores differences and idiosyncrasies in various industries and countries. For example, the Chinese approach to innovation management is based on learning from multinational companies. The peculiarities of Japanese innovation management stem from the social contribution of the Japanese company, the lifetime employment, consensus decision-making, sense of community and Kaizen approach. French, Lithuanian and Brazilian researchers emphasise the strategic role of human capital. The book summarises the latest findings of researchers from different countries who acknowledge the critical role that human capital plays in successful organisational innovation management.
Could you give us an example of innovation management best practices?
A good example is the quick rise of Huawei, which managed to succeed, first and foremost, because it was operating in a business-sector environment that required a lot of technological innovation and value creation at a rapid pace. Huawei put in place an effective strategy to capture the opportunities inherent in that environment and hired a lot of talent to do so. Thanks to a successful HR strategy, combined with effective incentive schemes, Huawei built up a pool of highly talented and motivated people to develop new products. A second key element of its success was that Huawei’s management also paid great attention to the ‘process’ of innovation management, as we describe in the book.
How can innovation management help organizations to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Now more than ever, managers need to stay up to date with latest managerial knowledge. To survive in times of crisis, adaptation is crucial. The pandemic requires different ways of thinking and new ways of finding new solutions to existing problems – skills that are closely related to innovation management. Understanding innovation management has, therefore, been receiving a lot of attention, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, which has turned management practices upside-down. Even though the book does not address it directly, it can offer inspiration on new ways of management in times of crisis. It shows different ways of managing products, processes, people and strategies, illustrating them with hands-on and real-life case studies.