In this article, we delve into the concept of a Management Innovation Challenge. This approach is about how management can stimulate innovation by setting up specific challenges. We’ll explore the importance of voluntary participation, the role of competitive advantages, and the value of empowering entrepreneurial individuals within your organization.

It’s difficult to order innovations, we can only make sure they happen. What’s important is ambition and management vision as well as a quick beginning. You only need a few hours for formulating the first version of the innovation challenge.


Who should be present at the first version of the innovation challenge?

You can invite your own (key) staff as well as customers, suppliers and other partners, sometimes even your competition, to solve innovation challenges. Participation should be voluntary in any case. The less formal you are, the more innovative suggestions you get. This is why detailed planning has a truly small value in this phase. First think about the “why” and the “what” and only then about the “how”.

  • Overview of distinctive competencies; 1 hour
  • Designing specific challenges; 1 hour
  • Generating different ideas; several hours
  • Lean innovation, twice as fast as otherwise


Challenges should stem from competitive advantages, which are resources that the competition doesn’t possess. These resources can include patents, technologies, infrastructure, specific knowledge and experience, special sales channels, brand, and effective management strategies. Management, in particular, can play a crucial role in leveraging these resources to drive innovation and maintain a competitive edge.

Examples of challenges

Challenges should be specific and address problems that are worth solving and worthy of your organization. We’re listing three examples:

1.) We wish to keep a hundred jobs, linked to the XY technology. The team who’s looking for a new solution has three people, you have free Fridays and weekends, six weeks of time and all essential material costs covered.
2.) We’re looking for significantly better solutions that would suit the problems that older people have with food or transfer or banking … Take two weeks of time and brainstorm and verify a few concepts.
3.) Our customers are also young people who are more receptive to new technologies, such as augmented or virtual reality. What will be the sought-after user experiences of the new generation of young clients in the year 2020?

Who is even ready for a challenge?

Relatively few individuals, those who love to learn and change things, are capable of solving challenges. These characteristics don’t depend on the position or education, and definitely not on gender. The ability to innovate lies in the internal attitude of the individual, often connected to the level of uncertainty with which the individual can live and work.

Thinking, innovative people usually have a lot of internal motivation for creating better and worthier things. For many of them, it’s enough that they have permission to tackle good challenges for a certain number of hours during their working day. What means a lot to these individuals is status and the fact that they’re a part of a special group of people that are creating the future of the company. Even a little change in their title – for example, Idea Manager or Innovation Manager or member of the team 2010 – can bring a lot of pride, more enthusiasm and definitely focus. For them, money is usually only a tool.


Entrepreneurial people don’t wait for instructions, they know how to keep themselves busy. When looking for new business models, it’s good to separate these individuals from the company bureaucracy, short-term economic indicators and conservative streams. What they need is fast access to internal sponsors and leaders as well as open and constructive communication. We compensate for the responsibility they’ve taken over with different combinations of financial, non-financial and symbolic rewards.

Don’t lose a valuable co-worker!

Much like an athlete is persistently looking for opportunities to do sports, creative people tirelessly look for opportunities to innovate, create. Why wouldn’t you offer it to them in the parent company? If you can’t guarantee that to them, you can lose a potentially very valuable co-worker!

“People have this vision of being the CEO of a company they started and being on top of the pyramid. Some people are motivated by that, but that’s not at all what it’s like. What it’s really like: everyone else is your boss – all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss. I’ve never had more bosses and needed to account for more people today. The life of most CEOs is reporting to everyone else, at least that’s what it feels like to me and most CEOs I know. If you want to exercise power and authority over people, join the military or go into politics. Don’t be an entrepreneur.” – Phil Libin, Evernote Corporation