Innovation Management Maturity: A Simple, Visual Approach

Written by Doug Collins

May 27, 2015

Simple Does It

Clients and I talk about innovation management maturity all the time.

How mature is their practice of collaborative innovation? What signs point to maturity? What outcomes speak to maturity? How might they perfect their practice?

I craft a simple visual to help us have the maturity conversation. Figure 1 shows the basic approach.

Figure 1: talking about innovation maturity



Program and Practice Maturity

We resolve maturity across two vectors: program maturity and process maturity.

Program maturity is a function of advocacy and buy-in borne out of confidence in results achieved. How many people are effectively engaged in the practice? How many have seen results?

Practice maturity is a function of operational excellence, sustained over time. How well is the practice understood? How well is the practice executed? How focused are the practitioners on sharing their trade craft with the tyros?

The two maturity vectors reinforce one another. You cannot get too far with one without the support of the other. A mature practice with an immature program means not enough people benefit. The transformation is incomplete. A mature program with an immature practice means you have gained people’s interest, but have failed to satisfy their desire for mastery.

We then through dialogue and by scribbling notes on paper pursue the questions that matter for that stage in the client’s journey. Figure 2 shows examples.

Figure 2: critical questions on innovation maturity

Innovation-Maturity_fig3_600dpi Innovation-Maturity_fig2_600dpi

Local and Global Maturity

Lastly, our dialogue moves naturally to the specifics of localized versus global maturity (figure 3). For example, is the supply chain more adept at the practice of collaborative innovation than the brand that serves the Latin American consumer? If so, why?

Figure 3: local versus global maturity


Over to You, Practitioner

How do you talk about maturity with your fellow practitioners?

How do you measure maturity? How do you advance maturity?

How do you tie goals for your practice to the level of maturity that you seek for it?

About Author

About Author

Doug Collins

Doug Collins serves as an innovation management consultant. He helps organizations such as The Estee Lauder Companies, Jarden Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, The Procter & Gamble Company, and Ryder System navigate the fuzzy front end of innovation. Doug develops approaches, creates forums, and structures engagements whereby people can convene to explore the critical questions facing the enterprise. He helps people assign economic value to the ideas and to the collaboration that result. As an author, Doug explores ways in which people can apply the practice of collaborative innovation in his series Innovation Architecture: A New Blueprint for Engaging People through Collaborative Innovation. His bi-weekly column appears in the publication Innovation Management. Doug serves on the board of advisors for Frost & Sullivan’s Global community of Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL). Today, Doug works as senior practice leader and Vice President, Innovation Architecture, at social innovation company Mindjet, where he consults with a range of clients. He focuses on helping them realize their potential for leadership by applying the practice of collaborative innovation.

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