Fostering innovation is an essential task for companies, particularly in the dynamic and constantly changing software industry. The continuous acceleration of innovation rates forces ever more established companies to fundamentally rethink their understanding of innovation. Current trends such as intrapreneurship, open innovation, user-driven innovation and a new employee generation of digital natives are the main drivers of this fundamental change. In simple terms: Today, anybody could be an innovator anytime. This sets new challenges to organizations, as traditional innovation management concepts lose effect in a setting where ideas emerge from all sides.
We focus on two aspects of innovation practices in IT companies:
1. How can organizations support innovative employees in realizing ideas through the proper use of „innovation artifacts“? An innovation artifact is an underspecified representation of an envisaged solution that is used to communicate an idea across intersecting social worlds in a corporate environment. At first, an idea exists only as an abstract conception, an image in the mind of a person. Only when that image meets the realm of reality and becomes a tangible innovation artifact, it is possible to further advance an idea. All kinds of physical or digital artifacts, documents, diagrams, shared methods, visual representations, or prototypes can act as innovation artifacts.
2. We want to understand and improve: How do innovative ideas spread through the social network of an IT-company? This includes supporting employees’ communication, collaboration and networking activities on an operational level and creating an innovative organization on a strategic level.