Innovation Styles

An innomation briefing by Stewart McKie.

Innovation Styles

May 2006

Introducing two styles of innovation.
Top-Down Innovation

The process and technology of topdown or strategy-driven innovation.
Bottom-Up Innovation

When you approach innovation from a process and technology perspective it becomes clear that innovation is not one kind of process supported by one technology “landscape” - it depends on the style of innovation that you intend to focus on in your business. Here we use the term innovation “style” as a means of differentiating what we are talking about here from other ways of categorizing innovation, for example:

The process and technology of bottom-up or idea-driven innovation.

• Incremental innovation that has a sustaining impact
in the marketplace.

• Radical innovation that has a disruptive impact in the
marketplace. The two styles briefly outlined here are top-down or strategy-driven innovation and bottom-up or idea-driven innovation. It is important to note that they are not mutually exclusive styles in that idea-driven innovation is a way of assisting with strategy-driven innovation. The aim of this briefing is to help readers to understand the differences between the two styles in terms of their process and process support technology.

Top-Down Innovation
Driven by Strategy

Intentional and sustained innovation cannot depend on an ad-hoc process. Instead it must be driven by a strategy to innovate. Strategy-driven innovation is a top-down innovation style that reflects upper management’s vision for the development of the business in the future. The process involves envisioning the strategy; creating a strategic plan to execute the strategy, developing the innovation deliverables demanded by the strategy and realizing the value of those deliverables in the marketplace.

The technology landscape for strategy-driven innovation is dominated by roadmapping both the technique and tool. Creating roadmaps to reflect the strategic plan helps you to envision the strategy, plan its execution, manage innovation deliverable development and the realization of value in the marketplace. A wide variety of other software tools have their own part to play to support the roadmapping effort at different phases of the process, but all are essentially contributing to the view represented by the innovation roadmap that in turn reflects the organization’s strategy.

(c) Stewart McKie, 2006


Bottom-Up Innovation
Driven by Ideas

Idea-driven innovation supports strategy-driven innovation but comes from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. This innovation style reflects the fact that ideas are often stimulated by deliberate campaigns intended to improve or solve a problem that could involve a wide range of internal and external stakeholders in the business. And these improvements or problem solving requests are often prompted by the need to change strategy in response to outside events, such as a competitor initiative or the availability of new knowledge or technology for example

The technology landscape for idea-driven innovation is dominated by idea management - both the process and tool. Again there is a wide universe of solutions to help with the process activities of generating, qualifying, developing and realizing the value of ideas. In essence managing the idea pipeline (quantitative) and idea portfolio (qualitative). Idea management manages a process that includes idea

• • • •

Stimulation and collection Screening and adding value Qualifying and evaluating Dispatch

(c) Stewart McKie, 2006


Reward and recognition

Three Steps for Success
1. Decide which style to focus attention on and conduct a people/process/technology audit of competence and capability 2. Make sure that everyone involved with your style of innovation understands the process and the technology support available. 2. Ensure that the core technology is in place to support each process, namely Roadmapping and Idea Management.

About the Author
Stewart McKie

Stewart McKie is an IT innovation consultant with over 20 years industry experience. He has an MSc in Organizational Consulting from Ashridge, a leading UK business school. Stewart’s service offering includes:

• software selection process management • application due diligence for M&A activity • idea management introductory workshops • white paper/article/web content writing • application prototype development
You can contact Stewart:

• by email at • by telephone at +44 (0) 1747 852659 (GMT).

(c) Stewart McKie, 2006