Innovation Management & the Golden Triangle

During a panel discussion at the recent Mineral Outlook Dialogue – a meeting hosted by Natural Resources Canada – the topic of engagement between external parties and mining companies was raised, specifically around implementation of new technology.  Due to time constraints we just touched on the subject.  

Based on my experience in other sectors – including software, telecom and defense – I would like to share what successful partnership projects have in common and what I refer to as The Golden Triangle.  

This concept applies equally to external partnerships and innovation management in any organization.

The Golden Triangle requires 3 key actors.

First, there must be senior executive ownership of the innovation portfolio – including KPI’s and budget – in any organization.  Without this level of support and buy-in, there is no guarantee that innovation projects and programs are relevant to the strategy of the organization and innovation is merely a buzzword.  

Second, there must be an on the ground owner of the innovation portfolio to provide the “head in the clouds boots on the ground”, to see into the future and what is possible while also understanding how it may fit in the business.  This dedicated resource is critical and their function is three fold:

  • provide the link from senior executives to the innovation portfolio;
  • provide a link to any operational departments or in mining to operating mine sites; and
  • be the primary point person for any external parties.

Third, there must be an operations connection that provides the link to product and/or process development or implementation without which creation of new products/processes or adoption will likely fail.  

Often organizations have 1 or possibly 2 of the above but rarely are there all 3.  

People with dedicated roles and responsibilities around innovation is only the first step.

Development and implementation of processes to manage the flow, development and possible implementation of innovative ideas from within and outside of the organization will ensure great ideas are captured and acted upon, and ones that are not relevant are put in the parking lot.  

Innovation management is dynamic and agile so start simple and adapt as you go.