The emerging route that has been travelled for innovation standards

The emergence of innovation standards might be upon us

In the EU, since 2008 there has been a constant level of activity around developing a consensus towards standards for innovation. Standards need to be consensus built, bottom-up in structure and engagement. It needs to bring together all interested parties and they are often highly diverse reflecting the variance of opinions not just about innovation but more importantly should it be structured or allowed to evolve.

Often within any debates we tend to forget a standard really is only a technical document designed to be uses as a rule, a guideline or a set of common definitions. It attempts to offer repeatable ways of doing something. It is far less challenging than many believe. Having some basic, common approaches and standards allows for a greater ability to build upon to disperse knowledge about innovation and how and what needs to be in place to assist those involved in getting more effectively to delivering in the market place, new innovation that has added value.

Standards for innovation stir up a set of interesting questions though

Would ‘standards’ be like the basic diploma like an architect for instance, who is taught the theory of the basic principles but who can see well beyond and challenges those existing boundaries and accepted norms, and in so doing pushes design into a new future but still draws down from this their initial ‘qualification?’

Innovation often arrives from the need to rapidly respond to crisis, it can need to bridge and move across disciplines and concepts, it might emerge from the intersection of ideas, concepts and cultures ( The Medici Effect reference) or it can draw from business, science, art and politics. How do you attempt to standardise, let alone capture for these?

Do standards get simply boiled down to that “de-facto” factor that we all have to have to ‘qualify’ for procurement tendering, being able to attract funding or just being that piece of paper to get past the gate-keeper of the high morals and necessary standards? Do they draw in more, or exclude the best? Do they level the playing field or simply reduce the surface to one where it becomes muddy and no one can effectively play upon? Does it trigger a whole new industry of certifiers encouraged by the state or funded by the EU to establish “standards” at a cost? When they become mandated what really happens?

Clearly standard setting is a dry affair, it becomes caught up in technical issues, it gets bogged down in these ‘vested’ interests yet standards do have a potentially strategic importance to advance innovation beyond its present ad hoc organization.

Lets see what emerges from the work so far undertaken

Within the EU there has been a technical committee working away under its reference of CEN / TC 389 for Innovation Management. They are developing standards under Innovation Management that covers in separate documents: creativity management,, innovation management assessments, innovation thinking, intellectual property management, strategic intelligence management and finally collaborative management. All of these are scheduled for very early in 2014.

There is one under drafting, I heard actually finished, waiting for sign off to be released in the next few months that covers Innovation Management- the innovation management system. Its project reference is FprCEN/TS 16555-1.

The EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation Màire Geoghegan-Quinn has promised to give this her full attention in 2013.

Let the broader innovation standards debate begin

So I am certainly looking forward to the first release of a standard according to the EU. I’m not sure if I’m holding my breath in the greatest anticipation but I would just simply say “let the debate really begin” as there are so many benefits in creating both a common language within and alongside an innovation set of standards – it can be then built upon.

We are needing a fresh momentum on innovation. Standards create debate, they stir up interest, they make us think a little harder on what innovation should ‘look’ like. Innovation needs pushing out out and designing for a greater adoption. We need to challenge the broader community to offer a greater understanding, some better ‘common language’ materials, define at least basic essential processes and what these need in application and this is the very time . We can build far, far more, from commonality than division.

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