October 18, 2018

Improving Innovation Through Better Management

The Expert Panel on Innovation Management Education and Training

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Summary

Canada has an abundance of raw ideas, talented people, and entrepreneurial spirit. While research is world-class and technology start-ups are thriving, few companies grow and mature in Canada. This cycle — invent and sell, invent and sell — allows other countries to capture much of the economic and social benefits of Canadian-invented products, processes, marketing methods, and business models. Escaping this cycle may be aided through education and training of innovation managers who can systematically manage ideas for commercial success and motivate others to reimagine innovation in Canada.

To understand how to better support innovation management in Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) asked the CCA two critical questions: What are the key skills required to manage innovation? And, what are the leading practices for teaching these skills in business schools, other academic departments, colleges/polytechnics, and industry?

To address the charge, the CCA appointed a five-member expert panel of leading innovation scholars and practitioners to assess relevant evidence, lead a workshop, and develop a report.

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The Question

What are the key skills required to manage innovation? And, what are the leading practices for teaching these skills in business schools, other academic departments, colleges/polytechnics, and industry?

Key Findings

Improving Innovation Through Better Management explores ways to provide innovation management training to a large, diverse population of students throughout their careers. The report identifies the competencies that are likely to enhance innovation management, describes what’s currently known about where and how to effectively teach these competencies, and outlines the implications for academic institutions, industry, and government. The Panel identified five innovation management competencies (IMCs) associated with high-performing innovation managers across a range of companies:

  • finding opportunities,
  • commercializing opportunities,
  • managing diverse teams,
  • leveraging innovation ecosystems,
  • and leadership.

The competency-based approach adopted by the Panel is intended to begin a dialogue among business schools, companies, and other stakeholders that educate and train innovation managers.

Additionally, the Panel reached the following conclusions:

  • Offering more innovation management courses can better prepare Canadian MBAs to manage in an increasingly innovation-driven economy. Joint programs are a leading practice for expanding access to innovation management education to students outside of business schools.
  • Specialized programs are a leading practice for providing in-depth innovation management education to mid-career students and focused training scaling high-tech companies to executives.
  • Leading practices are not widely recognized in innovation management because it is a nascent field with silos of expertise. Innovation management education could be improved by developing communities of practice for teachers, researchers, and practitioners to share, implement, and expand leading practices.
  • Leading innovation management courses and programs provide students with active learning experiences as well as opportunities for risk-taking, failure, and reflection.
  • Teacher-practitioners, innovation intermediaries, and lifelong learning are leading practices for effective innovation management education and training throughout the innovation ecosystem and across a student’s career.
  • Inclusive innovation can underpin both the theory and practice of innovation management, empowering diverse people and institutions to innovate.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Innovation Management Education and Training