Here’s a “not-the-best case” scenario: You’ve been ramping up your organization’s innovation portfolio. You’ve set up ideation and acceleration programs and have a healthy project pipeline. Many of your projects are making progress down your innovation funnel; some are also ready to pilot or launch to market. But now management is telling you: “close the taps, squeeze the funnel, we’re in recession!” and your business unit leaders want to cut your funding. You quickly scan your portfolio and realize you’re going to have to put at least 40% of your projects on hold (or kill them). You start trying to get all the necessary information on innovation projects together – trying to figure out how you’re going to decide which projects stay alive and which projects need to be killed.

Does that sound familiar?

Having worked with corporate clients across different industries through multiple economic and financial up and down cycles, we have seen this many times before. That’s why we have written this innovation portfolio management guide.

Linking your innovation portfolio to your business strategy helps you prioritize which projects are likely to move the needle and which projects can be killed to free up resources or cut budgets. It also gives your stakeholders the clear rationale behind why it still makes sense to invest in certain innovation projects even when there’s a looming recession or mandated budget reductions.
This guide will also help with happier scenarios. Say, for instance, that your company has a new leader who is keen on innovation, while COVID shocks have increased the appetite for doing things differently. People across your organization want to speed up innovation and there’s mounting pressure on you, the innovation lead, to fill your pipeline and increase the speed with which your company validates and launches innovation ideas. You have innovation ideas streaming in from all corners of your company and business unit leaders keep talking to you about all the opportunities they want to explore. You love that you have all this support for innovation – but you need to figure out what’s the best way forward.

What types of innovation opportunities should you explore? How do you ensure a balance of ambition and risk? Or that you don’t get carried away by the excitement?

We have been there too. Whether it’s in response to a crisis or disruption or due to a strategic imperative, sometimes our clients find themselves paralysed by the sheer number of opportunity areas to explore. It can be much, too fast, too soon… without a real strategic view on where their innovation pipeline needs work and what types of innovation projects need to focused on.

Support for innovation is so hard to build and maintain within a large organization. We understand how important it is to show real progress and business impact to keep the momentum – to be aware of the innovation portfolio ‘gaps’, the areas that need rebalancing, and the parts of your portfolio where the pipeline needs to be filled with more ideas. This is where Innovation Portfolio management comes in. When you link your innovation portfolio to your business strategy and map all your innovation projects against your business strategy (and different innovation ambitions), you can identify what types of ideas you need to source, whether you need to balance your portfolio towards the shorter term or longer term and how you can use your resources most efficiently.

So if you’re an innovation manager, or head of innovation - either at a global or local level - overseeing multiple innovation projects and managing a pipeline of innovation ideas, you can benefit from this guide.

Whether your organization is hunkering down in anticipation of a recession or building up its innovation muscle, managing your innovation portfolio to bolster your business goals will ensure you go beyond innovation theater, bring focus into your innovation efforts and maximize impact. Read on and get the step-by-step process and tools that we have used with our clients to help them do exactly that.

Innovation portfolio management guide

Do you manage innovation at your organization? Is your innovation pipeline blocked? We have the guide for you

Innovation Portfolio Management - flowchart

A handy tool to help you lay the groundwork for mapping your innovation portfolio for the first time, answer strategic questions on your innovation portfolio through insightful views and take informed decisions on rebalancing your portfolio, filling your pipeline, killing your projects or, in other words, ensuring you are getting the bang-for-your-innovation-buck, always.

Innovation Funnel

An alternative mapping of your innovation portfolio that will offer you significantly different insights that the Innovation portfolio map. Mapping projects based on their position in your innovation funnel offers additional insights on both resource allocation and need for interventions on certain innovation projects.

Innovation Project template

A tool to ‘process’ all the critical information on your innovation projects and ‘translate’ your innovation projects into mappable elements, or ‘bubbles’ for use on the Innovation portfolio map.

Innovation Portfolio Mapping

A single map that offers you multiple views to make informed decisions for your innovation portfolio, both at a strategic and tactical level.

From Company Vision to Actionable Projects

A single map that offers you multiple views to make informed decisions for your innovation portfolio, both at a strategic and tactical level.