ISO Innovation Management Standards…

ISO Innovation Management Standards…

ISO Innovation Management Standards: a contradiction or the key to survival?

What is innovation? A simple enough question but there are many misconceptions. It does involve creativity and it can involve technology but it is about much more than that. Innovation is an idea that is implemented and adds value. It can be innovation in processes, products, services, production or business models. Any business can innovate, regardless of its sector or size and innovation can be radical but is often incremental.

Another question: why does innovation matter? Not just why does it matter to our economy, but why should it matter to your business? Innovation is a basic survival skill in a global market where disruption is the status quo. Customers are more likely to buy and pay a premium for innovative products or services and innovation supports long-term growth.

It also matters because ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) thinks it does. They have just published two from a series of seven innovation management standards. This is known as the ISO 56000 series and will cover everything from developing a consistent language around innovation, to ideas management and methods for innovation assessment, partnership and management.

The standards are designed to apply to all organisations, regardless of their size, sector, geography or age.

Yet, even ISO recognise that innovation and standards may seem like a contradiction. Kill the creativity with process? I’m sure many of you are thinking this but having standards for innovation is definitely not a contradiction. Indeed, effective and systematic innovation management and measurement are critical to managing the uncertainty of innovation, therefore helping innovation to succeed.

Innovation measurement is the focus of the ISO Innovation Management Assessment Guidance (ISO 56004). It outlines why it is important to measure innovation, what to expect from good innovation measurement, how to carry out an assessment and how to act on the results. Improvements and value are expected as a result of the measurement process.

The ISO Tools and Methods for Innovation Partnership Guidance (ISO 56003) describes the benefits of innovation partnerships. This is particularly interesting as innovation partnerships are perhaps something we in Northern Ireland have been historically reluctant to enter into, impacting on our overall innovation performance as a region. The ISO guidance helps us develop partnerships to mutual benefit by managing risk or perceived risk. It specifically includes innovation partnerships between start-ups and SMEs with larger organisations.

The key messages from this first release of ISO Standards tell us that having a robust innovation management system, measuring innovation capability and developing innovation partnerships are essential to innovation.

These are guidance standards rather than requirement standards but they are still important. They will be developed over the next three to five years with the view to becoming requirement standards. In the meantime, they mean that innovation is now internationally recognised as a mature science.

Orryx is a specialist innovation advisory practice that works with businesses and the public sector to innovate and transform for the future. Orryx works closely with Innovation 360 Group who are leading international experts in innovation management. Contact Kelly directly at

Close Menu