ISO 56000 looks like a lot of numbers and letters, but essentially it is the international standard for innovation management.

It is a set of standard operation procedures designed to provide a general framework for all organizations, regardless of type, sector or size, toward the successful implementation, maintenance and continual improvement of an innovation management system.

The ISO 56000 series lays out a general guideline for all types of innovation, such as products, services, processes, business models and methods ranging from incremental to radical, as well as all types of approaches, such as internal and open innovation for user-, market-, technology-, and design-driven innovation activities.

Interestingly, ISO 56000 enables the integration of different ISO management systems, such as the ISO 9000 Series of Standards on Quality Management Systems, but more on that later.

What Exactly is ISO 56000?

ISO 56000 is still in its initial stages, but that’s no reason to ignore the currently published series. ISO Standards are designed and written by the International Organization for Standardization, the standard-setting body composed of highly regarded representatives spanning several countries; thus, it’s never too early to seize on an opportunity, especially one that provides a first-mover advantage to operationalize innovation management as a core competency.

"It's really all about the standardization of tools and methods and the interactions that you need to create opportunities for relevant parties to enable innovation,"
said Ludwig Melik in his talk during the recent Innov8rs Connect virtual summit. Ludwig is the CEO of Planbox, a company that has pioneered a cloud-based AI-powered agile innovation management platform.

"This standard was really designed to help manage any type of innovation in any organization," added Ludwig. "It incorporates all ISO management system standards, and standardizes future ISO management system standards."

Ludwig pointed out that the procedures in ISO 56000 aren't overly prescriptive, so organizations have the flexibility to work with this standard in a way that supports their innovation initiatives and objectives while simultaneously improving their management systems.

Why Businesses Should Care About ISO 56000

So how did ISO 56000 come about?

"Potentially, in the next 10 years, there may be more innovation than in the last 100. So there is a great world ahead of us," said Ludwig. "And this is encapsulated in the ISO 56000 series of standards."

ISO 56000 makes businesses think harder about innovation management — how they manage intellectual property, how they curate knowledge and insights, and how they manage ideas. This isn't just good for their business, but the whole innovation management space.

With ISO 56000, startups, scale-ups, and multinational corporations will:

  • rethink how they manage innovation partnerships;
  • manage the methods they use for achieving success in innovation;
  • learn how to provide training on innovation management, and discover why they need to carry out innovation management assessments.

These standards might be complex, but they are not unnecessary. Eighty-four percent of executives say their future success is very or extremely dependent on innovation, while 95 percent of all product innovations fail. Now, after decades, there's an internationally-recognized set of innovation management standards for organizations in various verticals.

As mentioned before, this ties into ISO 9000, the international standard that defines the frameworks for a quality management system (QMS). Ludwig points out that more than 1 million organizations worldwide have an IS0 9000 certification, which makes it one of the most widely-used management tools in the world today.

"ISO 9001 and ISO 56000 are really similar in the sense that both aim to realize value for the interested parties and, as such, are vital to the success of an organization. They are interdependent and connected in the sense that an organization may need to innovate to improve quality and, at the same time, ensure the quality of its innovation processes."

ISO 56000 complements ISO 9001 by creating a complete framework for achieving sustained and long term success for all organizations.

The ISO 56000 series of standards is continuously evolving but, as of now, it looks like this:

  • ISO 56002 covers innovation management systems and incorporates material from previous methodologies.
  • ISO 56003:2019 and ISO 56004:2019 are guidance documents on innovation management (tools and methods for innovation partnerships) and innovation management assessment, respectively.
  • ISO 56003 covers various topics, such as how startups collaborate with large organizations, innovation partnerships, and considerations for charities and public organizations.
  • ISO 56004 also covers various topics, such as innovation management assessment and methods for innovation success.

This standard also includes the following series; however, these have not yet been published:

  • ISO 56000 covers innovation management fundamentals and vocabulary.
  • ISO 56005 covers intellectual property management.
  • ISO 56006 covers strategic Intelligence management.
  • ISO 56007 covers idea management.
  • ISO 56008 covers the tools and methods for innovation operation measurements.

How Does ISO 56000 Help Businesses?

ISO 56000 is like the Bill of Rights for innovation management, with all the information business leaders need to create a system of record for innovation in their organizations. According to Planbox, in order to achieve their innovation management goals, businesses need to analyze their core capabilities in the five following areas:

How do tasks align with a company's innovation objectives? Will projects support and nurture creative ideas? Companies need to have a clear and concise strategy for innovation management.

How does innovation play a role in the day-to-day running of a business? Is it part of an organization's culture? Or just an afterthought?

Companies need to repeatedly evaluate their success in order to grow their innovation management strategies. Innovation shouldn't just be nurtured at the brainstorming stage but throughout design and development, and right through to product launch.

Tools and Techniques
Companies also need to use the right tools and techniques (and best practices) when managing innovation.

How will organizations measure and track their innovation management strategies? Which KPIs will they use? What insights will they generate?

ISO 56000 creates a single source of information for innovation management and helps organizations realize their innovation goals. However, as with other ISO standards, companies need to take a proactive approach and find solutions that execute and automate their innovation strategies, whether that's administration, tracking, management, or reporting.

"Looking at your innovation breakdown structure will ultimately help you understand the types of innovation areas you want to pursue, and having a balanced portfolio of innovation makes sure you get a good return on your investment," said Ludwig.

How Can Businesses Incorporate ISO 56000?

Businesses need to optimize their innovation management systems in order to create and inspire more innovation. People come with brilliant ideas all the time. Apple, Disney, Netflix, you name it — all of these brands started from a single idea someone had at some point in history. Now, businesses need to incorporate ISO 56000 so they can better facilitate innovation in their organizations.

"When you think about building standards for innovation management, a very key part of that will really be around building a center of excellence for innovation," said Ludwig. "And the idea here is to have a single community that is able to very clearly define and share all of the information about innovation. What is the calendar of events around innovation? How do people propose new ones? What is the success that is being created around innovation? How do people learn and share this success?"

These questions should be on every innovation manager's mind so he or she can create connections between all the people who contribute to an innovation program.

The Importance of an Innovation Management System

An innovation management system facilitates all the processes needed to comply with ISO 56000. A good IMS expedites the way businesses manage their innovation strategies so they can connect the dots, crunch the numbers, and plan product launches that won't fall at the first hurdle.

Not every IMS is created the same. Business leaders need a flexible, reliable system, like Planbox, that lets them scale their business, whether it's a start-up or a multi-national. It needs to provide value, and it needs to engage its users.

"Along the way, there's the engagement of the program, and whether the return on investment of your program will continue to increase. Ultimately, that comes with the maturity that your program exhibits," said Ludwig. "There are a lot of benefits in implementing an innovation management system. Statistics out there prove that organizations that are highly innovative, have the right approach, focus on systems built in to measure their innovation programs and successes are going to achieve far better results with much greater efficiency."

In summary

ISO 56000 might contain a lot of dos and don'ts, but at its core, it helps businesses set the baseline for innovation in their organization. A good IMS is critical, though, not just for compliance, but also for ensuring that the best ideas are properly nurtured and executed.

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Ludwig Melik is the CEO of Planbox, a leading provider of cloud-based AI-powered agile Innovation Management software.

In 2019, Planbox acquired Imaginatik (LSE: IMTK) (the #1-ranked leader in corporate innovation management according to Forrester Research) to seize on the innovation boom. Ludwig has more than 20 years of experience in the project portfolio management, innovation, and collaboration market. Previously, he was the co-founder of Tenrox, a bootstrapped startup that became a leader in cloud-based project management software. Then, as the president at Upland Software (Nasdaq: UPLD), he led the company to complete six acquisitions and IPO on Nasdaq within 30 months. He also co-authored the book "Optimizing Project and Service-Oriented Organizations" published by Wiley. His mission is to help organizations thrive by positively transforming their culture of innovation.