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Innovation Management - Idea Selection, Development And Commercialisation, What Are The Differences?

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.
There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

There is often much confusion between the three stages of innovation.
Idea selection seems to be pretty straightforward, and it is. Here, a critical frame of mind is used to reduce a quality idea pool into feasible ideas. Critical thinking is opposed to creative thinking 'where we use logic, reason, conservatism, feasibility and practicality to select the best ideas.

But often more than one good idea is generated. In fact, more than one good idea needs to be generated. The Economist (2003b) states that 3000 bright ideas are needed for 100 worthwhile projects, which in turn will be winnowed down to four development programmes for new products. And four such development programmes are the minimum needed to stand any chance of getting one winner.

Thus the next stage of innovation, development, involves deciding between all the good ideas. Until now, good ideas are really just only good ideas. By pushing them through stage gate processes, tinkering, experimenting, prototyping and conducting market research, it can be decided which of the good ideas are really great and worth investing in further.
Commercialisation starts at the tail end of development. With four development programmes (as per the above example), other teams and competencies become more heavily involved 'marketing, pricing, sales and distribution.
Kal Bishop, MBA

About the Author: Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on


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