Process innovation is one of the three types of innovation practiced by companies to make their value chain more efficient and effective. That is, to deliver the highest perceived value to the final customer, using the least amount of resources possible, while not ignoring the level of quality demanded by either customers or the strategic objectives of the organization.
Therefore, before we talk about process innovation stages, let us better understand the 3 types of innovation:
The 3 types of innovation
Product or service innovation
This is the best known and consists of developing something new that didn’t exist in the market, or improving the performance of existing products and services, or adding a new functionality in a product or service.
Business model innovation
The most cited examples of business model innovation are companies like AirBnB and Uber that have changed the way the hospitality and urban transportation business models worked.
The focus of this article is on process innovation, which consists of thinking of new ways to carry out process stages that constitute the company value chain.
Usually this includes a radical change in how the process was conducted before, and it’s not treated like a continuous improvement of the process, but the implementation of something new.
It’s important to understand that process innovation is never incremental or continuous, because it involves total change, replacing the process with a new one.
To better understand these concepts, check out some previous posts from our blog:
- Discontinuous Innovation: Radically change how you think
- Creativity and Innovation Management: Organized Chaos?
- Disruptive innovation: Is it the new fashionable business expression?
Process Innovation Stages
One of the most cited examples of process innovation stages goes back to the beginning of the auto industry. The period when Henry Ford created the production line.
Another well-known example is Dell, in which computers are assembled according to customer specifications, practically tailored to meet their needs.
But how do you come up with this type of idea capable of innovating processes so radically and successfully?
Some methodologies define certain steps for process innovation, but, in essence, are not very different from the steps used in other types of innovation, such as: the identification of opportunities; understanding opportunities; the exchange of ideas; innovation; selecting the best ideas and the development of innovation.
This sequence of process innovation stages sounds bureaucratic and stifled.
Therefore, for the effective use and implementation of process innovation stages, we suggest the use of approaches such as design thinking and disruptive methodologies, which we will summarize below.
Using Design Thinking in process innovation
Basically innovation based on the methodology of Design Thinking has 4 stages:
1- Inventing the future
This consists of analyzing the situation and finding something that people need, but which they don’t yet have.
Thus, in cases of process innovation, the focus can be on both a benefit for internal and external customers.
For example, if in a law office lawyers dream of getting feedback from fellow experts in areas that don’t currently operate quickly, even a simple solution like adopting Slack in the company can be an innovation in the process of internal communication.
2- Develop a prototype
In our example, a group of lawyers could be chosen and some channels created in Slack by area of activity.
With everything formatted as discussed above, there must be a testing period. This allows you to collect feedback from users and adapt the solution to their real needs.
After defining the new process’s attributes, you can replicate it in the entire enterprise with much more security and assertiveness.
Disruptive innovation in processes
There is no way to hide that these two methodologies have many points in common.
The question you should ask in this case is:
What tasks do my clients (internal or external) need someone to do for them that no one is currently doing?
The approach is similar, which only shows the power of synergy of the two methodologies, if adapted for process innovation.
A very common way of perceiving this type of necessary task for the company’s processes, but which no one has bothered to solve yet, are the adaptations of use.
Thus, if, for example, the quality control team is using smartphones on its own initiative to photograph parts they believe to be out of the norm and sending for more accurate analysis in a company’s laboratory, why not analyze, model, and automate this process, and create standards and procedures?
Wouldn’t it be possible to develop an application for these smartphones? One that already has the necessary image resolution and even a gradation scale statistically defined to gauge measurements instantly? And which you can then streamline it?
So if you want to streamline process innovation in your company, start using more innovative processes for that. The solution, as in our hypothetical example, is sometimes much closer than you think.
In order to prototype the new processes, there’s nothing more appropriate than an intuitive BPM editor that’s easy to operate, like HEFLO.
And if you want to know more about it, then go to our e-book: The BPM Cookbook