Bernhard Burgener on the importance of innovation management

Today, companies must foster innovation via innovation management to remain relevant in the long run.  

According to Bernhard Burgener, a seasoned entrepreneur, and businessman, innovation really is the only way to win in the business world. He believes that maintaining relevance, in the long run, requires innovative management to keep up with market demands. 

Read on and see how you can implement innovation management within your business in a better way.

What exactly does innovation management mean?

Innovation management, as a term, is a source of much debate. The very definition of innovation implies that it cannot be managed. 

In contrast, others are stout believers in building systems and processes to create more innovation. As you might expect, the reality isn’t as simple as that. 

So, let’s take a step back and consider what the term means. Merriam-Webster defines innovation as “introducing something new.” This is not the same as simply inventing something new, such as a product.

“Innovation management” thus refers to handling all the activities needed to “introduce something new.” The process involves generating ideas, prioritizing them, and implementing them, e.g., by launching a product or introducing new internal processes.

There are different types of innovation, as the definition indicates. This is the root cause of many disagreements related to innovation. 

People often use the generic term when referring to a small subset of innovation. And even then, strictly from the point-of-view of their organization and experience.

Bernhard Burgener’s four key pillars of innovation management

Through experience, Bernhard Burgener has found the simplest way to understand the topic. That is through breaking it down and discussing each aspect of innovation management separately. 

Here is the primary pillar Bernhard Burgener said you should focus on:


Competency refers to the organization’s ability to create and manage innovation. 

Innovations require the ability of individuals and teams collectively, but the competency aspect primarily revolves around people. This refers mainly to the organization’s employees’ abilities, insights, know-how, and practical skills. 

For the manager of the organization, there is a valid need for entrepreneurial leadership.

The model also considers the organization’s information capital, tacit knowledge, and other resources and financial capital. All of these might be required to create innovation.


Structures enable the effective use of capabilities, whereas capabilities allow the use of structures.  In practice, this means the organization’s organizational structure, processes, and infrastructure.

The exemplary structures can work as a force multiplier allowing the organization to operate and innovate more effectively.

Few ideas will succeed without the proper communication channels, decision-making processes, and appropriate implementation infrastructure. This is where tools like innovation management software can make a difference.


Culture allows an organization to acquire the capabilities related to people if structures enable the organization to use capabilities effectively. 

A pro-innovation culture makes it much easier for the organization to recruit and retain the right people.

An appropriate pro-innovation culture encourages the proper behavior and discourages the wrong kind. An organization’s culture can significantly impact its innovativeness since its effects quickly accumulate. In general, these are the characteristics of an innovative culture:

  • Stresses the importance of constantly improving.
  • Speed, learning, and experimentation are valued.
  • Accepts failure as a part of creative development.
  • Provides enough freedom and responsibility and is led primarily with vision and culture instead of a chain-of-command approach.


Simply put, strategy is the organization’s plan for achieving long-term success.

However, it is critical to understand that strategy ultimately involves making deliberate decisions. Those decisions are between several feasible options to have the best chance of “winning,” This choice shouldn’t stand apart from the implementation.

Innovation and strategy are closely related topics. But in essence, innovation is simply one way to achieve your strategic goals.

The different types of innovation that require different management styles, according to Bernhard Burgener

Open Innovation

It is based on the belief that knowledgeable and creative individuals outside the organization can also contribute to strategic goals. They are also capable of sharing intellectual property, which is helpful for different parties in different ways. 

The more information gained, the more educated the final decision. In the open innovation funnel on the right, the development process is not limited to individuals within the facilitating company. In addition, the number of ideas is also higher.

Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation is a series of minor improvements or upgrades to a company’s existing products, services, processes, or methods.

The changes implemented through incremental innovation usually focus on improving an existing product’s development efficiency, productivity, and competitive differentiation. 

A product’s market position is often maintained or enhanced through incremental innovation. It has become a common tactic in consumer technology, as companies strive to improve personal devices with customer-friendly features regularly.

Sustaining Innovation

It occurs when a company creates better-performing products to sell for higher profits to its best customers. Typically, sustaining innovation is strategy companies already successful in their industries use. 

The motivating factor in sustaining innovation is profit. By creating better products for its best customers, a business can pursue ever-higher profit margins.

Disruptive Innovation

This innovation occurs when a company with fewer resources moves upmarket and challenges an incumbent business. It is possible to divide disruptive innovation into two types:

  • Low-end disruption – It is a disruption at the low end of an existing market using a low-cost business model.
  • New-market disruption – By catering to an underserved market, a company creates and claims a new segment in a current market.

Rather than fighting the new entrant, both types of disruptive innovation force the incumbents to retreat upmarket. 

What are the challenges that Bernhard Burgener sees in innovation management?

Poor infrastructure

It will be difficult for people to achieve impact without processes, resources, or infrastructure. For example, it’s easy to talk about Google’s 20% time being an excellent initiative for empowering innovation. 

Still, if you were to provide the same policy in your organization, it would likely be much less effective. Your employees probably don’t have access to the tools, infrastructure, knowledge, or raw data employees at Google do.

The manager must provide their team with the resources and capabilities they need to succeed.

Culture lacks a growth mindset

It’s important to take the necessary steps to develop a growth mindset for your business. The idea that who you are is neither fixed nor something you can change is a sign of a growth mindset.

The same goes for organizational culture. Without a growth-oriented culture, the organization is highly unlikely to innovate.

No vision or clear focus

Creating something that doesn’t yet exist is often the source of significant innovations, and the same is true for organizations.

A compelling vision is more likely to attract passionate people who will put in the extra effort to develop innovations. If you have an excellent vision for the organization, you still need to communicate understandably and acceptably. 

So, as Bernhard Burgener would say, keep the vision alive, and start innovating!

Read Also: which resource management task deploys or activates personnel and resources


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