Professionalizing innovation management

Managing innovation activities in a company or other organization is an emerging profession. A body of knowledge, personal certification, and international standards are supporting this development.

What is an innovation management professional?

Innovation management professionals are responsible for, or actively contributing to, leading and organizing innovation efforts and for building innovation capabilities in or for an organization. A professional model is emerging similar to the development for project and quality management professionals. Many organizations already have one. They can be called for example innovation managers, facilitators, coaches, or officers.

Job description

In the Swedish context, the Association for Innovation Management Professionals in Sweden (Innovationsledarna) started to develop a job description in 2015. Six specific responsibilities, from strategic to more tactical, where identified based on the experience of the members of the association. The purpose was to define and strengthen the identity of the profession.

Body of Knowledge

As a next step, a first version of a Body of Knowledge for innovation management professionals was developed. The purpose was to define the core innovation skills related to the responsibilities of the job description based on the content of international guidance standards (ISO 56000 and ISO 56002) and on the latest research- and experience-based knowledge in the area of innovation management. The Body of Knowledge was developed by the community of practitioners of Innovationsledarna and can be used as an introduction to the profession, for competence development, and as the basis for personal certification.

There has also been an increasing interest outside of Sweden to explore the development of a global Body of Knowledge, for example by ISPIM (the International Society for Professional Innovation Management) and their Special Interest Group (SIG) on Body of Knowledge.

Personal certification

The final step in the Swedish context was to establish a personal certification program. The purpose was to further strengthen the legitimacy of the profession and the employability of innovation management professionals. The program is based on the Body of Knowledge and an independent certification body: the certification arm of RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. Training is provided by third party companies and is not part of the certification program as such. The program is open to anyone inside or outside of Sweden that fulfill the requirements.