What does an innovation leader do? What does the role entail and why is it important? Åsa Christiander, Global Innovation Manager at ASSA ABLOY, explains why innovation is vital in creating value for the company.
What do you do as innovation leader?
“We take a fairly broad approach to what we call innovation management. It includes everything from a new idea to removing a product from the market and everything in between. We’ve chosen this approach because if you don’t take out old products, there is less room for new ones.
“We also place great importance on ensuring that the right ideas enter the innovation system to avoid ‘clogging’ because of too many initiatives.
“In everyday terms, this means a mix of strategy and concept development, education, communication and networking, and a large portion of pilot projects where we test and implement new ways of working. We’ve developed products that we never would have ‘discovered’ in the lab after going out to visit customers and users, literally ‘walking around in their shoes.’
“Not too long ago I calculated that we’ve become 54 percent more efficient at creating value from innovation in five years. This improvement is the result of many ingredients, but innovation management is one of them.”
Why did you decide to become an innovation leader – what motivates and inspires you?
“Innovation in general appeals to me because it is future-oriented. I’m curious and appreciate everyone who devotes their lives to making things better and solving problems that no one has ever solved before.
“I’m relatively strongly value-driven. I’m motivated by duties that I think are important, that I believe in, like sustainability. In other words, saying ‘you’ll get a million if you say that this is the world's best toothpaste’ doesn’t work particularly well on me.”
What's the best part of your job?
“The task of looking forward... looking around corners. Working with vision and long-term planning. The opportunity to influence the future – both what's coming and how it’s produced. The opportunity to ‘experiment’' with new working methods.
“If innovation management is high on the company agenda, which it should be, and is with us, you also get to work with the company’s management on strategies and goals.”