Process Innovation Steps

Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has her master's degree in Business Administration and has deployed Lean Six Sigma internationally.

In this lesson, you will briefly review what process innovation is and its high-level steps. In addition, you'll begin to understand why this four-step approach creates consistency and reduces risk associated with innovation.

What Is Process Innovation?

Have you ever wondered how things around you are developed? How did our light source change from candles and lanterns to light bulbs and LED's? There is always the choice to continuously improve the same process or product or to totally scrap it and create something new and improved. Although many people take different approaches to creating that new and improved process or product, did you know that there is a structured approach called process innovation. Before diving into the high-level steps, let's break down process and innovation.

A process is a series of steps with the goal of achieving a specific result, while innovation refers to identifying and applying a different or unique way to achieve an end result. So, if we put the two concepts together, process innovation means implementing a production or delivery method that is brand-new or that has gone through significant improvements. Changes in software, techniques and equipment are all examples of process innovation.

A Structured Approach

Process innovation steps consist of a structured approach to identify the best possible way to achieve an end result. There are four high-level steps typically used in process innovation: ideation, innovation, incubation and implementation. This can be applied to existing processes as well as the development of new processes as it relates to supporting a new system or product. Process innovation steps create a roadmap for organizations in the pursuit of innovation.

Step 1: Ideation

During this step, ideas are generated and at a high level, researched, evaluated and measured to better understand the pros and cons of each idea. Fresh ideas help organizations create a competitive advantage. No industry stays stagnant, so constant idea generation is imperative for organizations to survive.

Step 2: Innovation

Once the most beneficial ideas are identified, innovation begins. At this point, opportunities for application are analyzed in more detail, risks are assessed and benefits measured. Great imagination is required and it is also good to understand that mistakes will be made but that is part of the process. Keep an open mind and think outside of the box.

Step 3: Incubation

Ideally, the new delivery method is tested with the actual technique, equipment or software. This step includes establishing prototypes and analyzing benefits against potential risks. It is wise for an organization to begin this stage as soon as possible to quickly determine if an idea should be further pursued or discarded. The first prototype is never the final one.

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