14.10.2020 Fabian Roschig

Commercially viable innovation is a systematic process, not (only) a spark of genius

Solely rely on talent, creativity, and luck is a recipe for failure.

Innovation: A process vs. a spark of genius

Nowadays almost all executives agree that innovation is critical for competitiveness, progress, and results.

84% of German executives say that the future of their business lies in innovation.*

3/4 of international executives agree that changes brought about by COVID-19 will be a big opportunity for growth.**

It is at the top of the agenda, but when you ask people what do you understand by innovation, you get all different kind of answers, but rarely you’ll hear the answer “A PROCESS of developing solutions to unmet customer problems” or something equivalent.

We tend to perceive innovation as a spark of genius, a brilliant idea of extraordinary and creative minds, and a distinct moment of time when something new is created.

But established companies are set up to be consistent and stable for ease of control. Stability, consistency, and control are the antithesis of luck, happened by chance or not repeatable sparks of genius. So why do we treat innovation differently than any other part of the business where we tend to structure and optimize meticulously to make it predictable and repeatable.

Make it repeatable, predictable, fact-based, systematic

Rather than a distinct moment or idea, it should be a repeatable, plannable process to deliver tangible results. A methodology that creates a consistent, predictable, and sustainable path for innovation.

With an aversion to process and a strong belief that innovation is an art, there is little hope a company will ever consider adopting an effective innovation process. -Tony Ulwick — Founder of the innovation consulting firm Strategyn

Let’s make it clear. Successful innovation can happen by accident. Experimental stumbling, failure, redesign, good execution of methodologies, and uniquely talented innovation individuals can make many things work, but it’s not efficient neither a strategic approach to innovation. It’s a pleasant surprise when it works, but is this something you want to take to your C-Level?

Relying on random efforts is like risking an organization’s future success to a straight up roulette bet. — Jim Stikeleather, Former Chief Innovation Officer at Dell

Especially the discovery phase is a very analytical and rational process. It is quantitatively driven, often research-based, and generally sequential in execution.

In a later stage of designing solutions, it is equally important to have the qualitative, inspirational “ah-ha!” moments. This model employs more divergent thinking: it is both creative and intuitive.

Works of Brilliance Come From Great Processes, Not Great Ideas — Emre Soyer

In my opinion, the development of a highly productive innovation capability is one of the most important strategic priorities for any Organization.

Do you want to take action and create more meaningful Innovation? Let’s talk


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About Me

Helping companies with effective strategies and execution for a systematic, user- and growth-centered innovation.

My name is Fabian Roschig and I am a consultant for innovation strategies and innovation management.

My mission is to drive innovation at all levels, based on the individual strengths of each organization, to enable and accelerate sustainable commercial growth. Together we make this happen by setting clear goals, focusing on the right balance between strategy and execution, and using validated, systematic methods and tools that guarantee continuous, measurable results.

For more than 12 years, I have had the privilege to successfully plan, implement or optimize new strategies, products, and services, innovation programs, structures, agile teams as well as processes for a variety of clients and employers such as The Coca-Cola Company, Condor, kicker, Dr. Oetker or TUI. In doing so, I work closely with executive boards, middle management, cross-functional teams, and external service providers.


  • *Based on McKinsey Survey — 2020
  • **Based on McKinsey Global Innovation Survey — 2020

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Commercially viable innovation is a systematic process, not (only) a spark of genius was originally published in BeyondFortune on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.