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The International Standards Organization (ISO) describes Innovation Management as a discipline concerned with the establishment of an innovation vision, strategy, and policy within an organizational structure; supported by innovation processes whose aim is to achieve objectives through planning, support, operations, performance, evaluation, and improvement.
They note that an organization’s ability to innovate is recognized as a key factor for sustained growth, economic viability, increased well-being, and the development of society.
To summarize, Innovation Management is concerned with the standardization and enablement of innovation processes. It is a rapidly maturing discipline within many industries that is proving to be a powerful driving force for digital transformation and sustainability initiatives.
So, we spoke with Gunnar Storfeldt, CEO & Co-Founder of Amplify to find out more about the company, the processes, and the international standards they have contributed to establishing.
Having earned his degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Gunnar began his career as a Product Development Engineer. Well-versed in CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM and PLM, he quickly became fascinated with the process elements of Product Development.
His first encounter with Amplify was as a customer, working in the Life Science industry as the CEO of a technology company developing embedded systems for medical and laboratory devices. During that series of successful projects, Gunnar made the decision to join Amplify as they were expanding their business.
Since that time, Amplify have been building their capability for supporting organizations to achieve world class innovation performance, by crafting innovation strategies, and designing and supporting the implementation of innovation management systems to provide a holistic, organizational view on innovation.
Today, besides managing the company, Gunnar spends much of his time helping clients building sustainable innovation capabilities and leading innovation projects – whether that be products, services, processes, or business models.
You’ve been with Amplify Innovation for more than 15 years now. How have things changed since those early days?
In the beginning it was all about new ideas. We founded the company based on decades of research concerned with understanding the means to create better ideas effectively, systematically, proactively – the processes, methods and tools that facilitate just those parts of innovation efforts. The interesting thing with that approach was that creating something new was very mechanical – there was less emphasis on inspiration, freedom, and quantity of ideas. It was more about a lot of very focused, hard work from a dedicated team with a set of effective methods and tools, to create qualitative ideas. We generated some really great results, and that’s why clients started to engage us.
But soon we discovered that ideas are not everything. The definition of innovation is to create new values. Ideas themselves do not create value. You have to be able to realize them, to deploy and implement things. You have to make sure that they have an impact and create value.
So, we soon realized that we also have to be focused on realizing new ideas, and, perhaps more importantly to better understand what values we were aiming for. Looking upstream, we have to figure out what our customers need. Whether those requirements are spoken, or unspoken. We have to understand the trends and happenings around and within an organization to be able to predict which values will really be appreciated in the future.
“The definition of innovation is to create new values. Ideas themselves do not create value.”
Gunnar Storfeldt, CEO & Co-Founder | Amplify Innovation
Secondly, we also had a real change in strategy. We had this process moving from nothing to something new. But then, how do we manage that? It’s a tough job. And it will face a lot of resistance. People are not used to dealing with that. So, we soon figured that we need to be systematic both in the process, but also in how we manage it. For example, knowledge management is key because we’re dealing with learning processes. Understanding and managing expectations to ensure that goals are achievable. There are so many moving parts to consider, and without guidelines, or a management structure for this innovation process, you can get stuck very quickly.
So, that was the big change, really. We went from being very hands on to becoming a management company dealing with strategies, coaching leadership, etc. In fact, we now have a recognized standard for it. We have been heavily involved in the development of the series of international standards, ISO 56000. So, now it’s not just a single consultant, a professor, or a bestselling management book, it’s a commonly agreed framework built on over 10 years of work with experts from more than 50 countries involved in developing it.
This is the basis of everything we do: To make sure that every organization can enjoy the benefits of a shared and proven framework outlined in the standards. It’s of huge importance, specifically if we expect organizations to innovate together to address the big challenges humanity is dealing with – sustainability being one of them.
A lot of people will agree that a standard for innovation is a surprising concept. But if there’s an industry in which it makes quite specific sense, perhaps that is the Life Science industry, where regulations and compliance issues provide their own framework for innovation.
How involved is Amplify in the Life Science industries? And what are the specific innovation challenges when working with Life Science companies?
So, firstly, we work with every industry. We work mainly with commercial organizations, but also quite a few public organizations. When it comes to Pharmaceuticals and Medical Device, we’ve done quite a lot of projects over the years: Astra Zeneca, Mölnlycke, Fresenius, Elekta, to mention just a few. There are different challenges in every organization. But one thing in common, which can cause inertia in this industry, is the issue of regulations. When it comes to innovation, the biggest excuse for not doing anything new is, “it’s not possible because of the regulations.”
To overcome this, we need to achieve a common mindset in the organization. Of course, you need to comply. But if you take it for granted, finding spaces for renewal within the framework, there are a lot of things that you can do without disturbing the regulations. In some situations, you might need to push for change. To challenge regulations when you find that you have a logical rationale for change.
Another challenge would be that many Life Science companies are limiting themselves in their expectation of their clients in the Healthcare Sector. Sometimes there’s a feeling that new processes or approaches will not be well-received, or that they won’t play out in the long term – that they want to stick with things that work. But this mindset can be very limiting. In fact, the Healthcare sector is beginning to see the requirement for new thinking – for radical renewal – and many organizations are taking advantage of this framework for innovation, to deliver beyond expectation.
What are the key advantages when working with Life Science companies today?
Even if there are restraints from regulations, if you compare with other industries, there are two advantages. First, Life Science organizations are quite well funded for new projects. For example, they are quite research-intensive so there is a lot of money spent on R&D. Of course, this can be a hindrance when aiming to renew your business in other areas – everything from packaging to services. In fact, there are times when we’ve been given access to every area of a business, apart from the product: because it’s under regulation.
Secondly – speaking broadly – there is a high level of education and competence. And, of course, this is abstract thinking, so it’s beneficial to be able to move between different modes of thought at a pace.
Often, we must be quite strict in setting a strategic direction for innovation so that we’re able to avoid the obstacle that regulations might cause. When you have a strong focus – and you know what ambitions and goals you have – you can put resources in those areas, and you can achieve great things. We often find that organizations lacking that mindset become stagnant.
What are your predictions for future advancements in the field?
Innovation Management is not a new discipline, but it’s still in its early phase. Now, having the ISO standard and the confidence that brings, we’re able to see larger projects being taken on as a professional discipline. Change like this can take a long time to become the accepted standard. But today, as opposed to ten years ago, we see professional roles being advertised, recognized organizational requirement, and a lot of development for standardization.
We’re seeing the same sort of development that we saw 60-70 years ago with Project Management, or in the 70s and 80s with Quality Management. Nowadays we take it for granted that we have these disciplines integrated within our businesses.
Quite often we get the question, “is innovation as important as digital transformation, or sustainability?” But the fundamental principle of innovation is a requirement for renewal in either of these areas. So, I think that’s why more organizations are realizing that they have this requirement for Innovation Management – to help drive these change initiatives.
Many Life Science companies recognize that the industry is moving more confidently toward digitization. With this comes an abundance of new opportunities for radical innovation. As digital transformation changes the pace of innovation, companies are required to develop and manage innovation strategies as an enabler to organizational, and industrial, change.
Join us at the Life Sciences PLM Innovation Forum to hear more from Gunnar Storfeldt about the ways in which Amplify are supporting the Biopharma and Medical Device Industries. Register today to save your seat for his presentation, “Systematic Innovation Management – The principles for achieving sustainable innovation performance.”
About Amplify Innovation
Amplify are innovation specialists offering a set of flexible innovation solutions aimed at the precise requirements of each individual client. By professionalizing innovation, Amplify empowers their clients to rapidly, effectively and – with the highest precision – pursue new opportunities and deliver positive impact.
Join us at the Life Sciences PLM Innovation Forum 2021 to discover how PLM and Innovation Management are reshaping your industry