c-IM&E Inc. (Competitive Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship)

Companies (and communities) grow, mature, decline, and die depending on their capabilities to innovate and stay competitive. Innovation is a means to organizational survival and success. However, many corporate executives, investors and government officials fail to understand how to manage innovation effectively and how to reap the best results from the investments made to pursue it.

It is people who innovate, and an entrepreneurial culture aligned with the business goals and innovation strategies of the company is critical for success to a larger extent than additional investments in R&D.

The solutions provided by c-IM&E Inc. (pronounced “see-me”) are based on the 40 years innovation management experience of Dr. Sorin Cohn, extensive literature reviews and many studies of business and social innovation in a variety of industries and communities across the globe, including the research on firm-level innovation undertaken by the Centre for Business Innovation at the Conference Board of Canada. In addition to the Competitive Value Innovation Guide, c-IM&E Inc. offers tools for assessing and guiding communities (rural, urban, regional entities) interested in becoming comprehensive intelligent (smart) communities capable of competing successfully in the21st century global village. The Intelligent Community Assessment by Stakeholders (i-CAST) is one of these social innovation tools offered by c-IM&E Inc. (see more details at BD Cohnsulting page on this website)

The Competitive Value Innovation (CVI) guide (CViG) is an innovation management diagnostic tool that provides a multi-dimensional competitive perspective of a company, or an industry sector or of a business region. It acts like an “innovation compass” showing the company’s position in the market as perceived by its executive managers. The CVI guide provides a diagnostic of the innovation management practices as well as the alignment of culture to business goals and innovation strategy, which are instrumental for determining areas for competitive improvement, for making wise investment decisions and for ensuring higher returns on innovation investments.

The Problem: Corporate Innovation Management

While it is well accepted that innovation is the engine for competitive growth, many companies and communities are wasting significant efforts, time and money because they do not manage their innovation activities comprehensively, competitively and methodically, taking into account market and management realities and using metrics appropriate for their life cycle stages of evolution.

Companies face a relentless stream of competitive disruptions because of evolving technologies, new customer demands, shorter product lifecycles, geopolitical instabilities and threats from other companies. To maintain their competitive positions, companies must develop innovative capabilities and exploit them in the market. Innovation is about attracting customers with more valuable products and services as well as surprising the competition with more effective and efficient processes internally and externally where it counts.

Solution Dimensions

How to innovate (and how to manage innovation) has long been an art, which is now becoming more and more of an engineering science based on objective data and proven methodologies. Some of the difficulties in pursuing innovation effectively are due to inconsistent understanding of innovation and the lack of adequate measurements to determine innovation needs, to evaluate results and to determine the effective treatment to enhance the company’s position in the market, where it really counts.

Corporate-level business innovation comprises the entire portfolio of innovation activities undertaken by a firm. Firm-level innovation management encompasses the business decision to compete realistically, the choice of strategic directions for innovation, the nurturing of a culture of innovation aligned with business goals, the selection of innovation opportunities, the allocation of resources, the organization of innovation projects, the measurement and the management of the implementation and commercialization of the firm’s portfolio of meritorious innovations without which the company could not achieve its business goals.

Business innovation is complex and multidimensional, and the interaction between innovation and the firm’s organization depends on a multitude of factors some of which may be external to the firm itself. The value-add Competitive Innovation Management framework (v-CIM) together with the metrics-based competitive Innovation Management Techniques (c-FIT) and associated tools enable companies to tune their innovation activities to market realities, align their management teams, select the necessary innovation targets, and manage methodically their efforts to accelerate company growth, avoid decline and enhance position in the market. (See more details on the BD Cohnsulting page.)

Strategic decision-making is critical because firm resources are limited and opportunities for innovation may be numerous. First, it is necessary to decide where to innovate and then to select what to innovate. It’s important to then plan on who and how to pursue the innovation. The latter involve the need for evaluating the progress of innovation, which implies what to measure and how to measure it.

Many companies have abundant ideas and invent well, but there is a lot of innovation wastage due to poor management of innovation at the corporate level. It is people who innovate, and an entrepreneurial culture aligned with the business goals and innovation strategies of the company, is critical for success to a larger extent than additional investments in R&D. Indeed, the biggest corporate spenders on R&D are seldom perceived as the most innovative companies. The fundamental issue affecting a company’s competitive performance is not the amount of funding put into its R&D, but its firm-level innovation management capabilities. Success starts with leadership that nurtures a culture of entrepreneurship and pursues innovation comprehensively, competitively, and methodically, with the right metrics to ensure tangible and timely value where it counts: i.e., in the market.

The corollary is that a company’s leaders—starting with the CEO—must:

  • thoroughly understand the company culture;
  • know the competitive situation in the market;
  • be able to diagnose what works and what does not work in the company;
  • have an effective methodology for gathering ideas and transforming them successfully into valuable market realities and competitive advantages.

In a word, leaders need to diagnose their company before making changes and further investments. To do so, company leaders and investors need a full-fledged dynamic guide: a smart “compass” that shows the direction to follow and points to how to solve issues that may be encountered along the way. Such a tool should:

  • help a company’s leadership understand the role of innovation and the principles for managing it effectively;
  • stretch the executive mindsets, and challenge the executives to accurately define their company’s business models and its position in the market;
  • help executives agree on what really matters to sustain business growth or avoid decline;
  • instruct executives on competitive imperatives and help them select the innovation strategies and specific programs that need to be pursued;
  • indicate where changes must be made to the way that innovation is managed in the company;
  • help leverage the power of HR and corporate communications to create and maintain a culture of entrepreneurship;
  • show executives what works and what does not, allowing them to make timely adjustments for ensuring high returns on their corporate innovation investments.

The Competitive Value Innovation Guide is meant to act as this type of tool for a company’s leadership.