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Sailing Through Storms of Change: Mastering the Innovation and Quality Odyssey in Business

Updated: Feb 2

Dr. David Alkaher

Proposing a System Model for Sustained Excellence in the Modern Business Seascape

In the turbulent waters of today's business world, where change is the only constant, a robust and dynamic approach is essential for organizations to maintain a competitive edge. This article proposes an integrated system model designed to steer businesses through the unpredictable currents of innovation and quality management. The Operative Innovation and Quality Management System Model serves as a comprehensive framework that empowers organizations to navigate the complex and ever-evolving landscape of modern commerce. It is a lighthouse for organizations seeking to illuminate their path towards sustained excellence, blending the art of generating groundbreaking ideas with the science of executing them to the highest standards of quality. Let us embark on a journey to explore this model, a vessel built for the future, crafted to deliver not just operational success, but also a legacy of continuous improvement and strategic achievement.

System View

Innovation management system

Explaining the Operative Innovation & Quality System Model

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving business environment of today, the Operative Innovation and Quality Management System Model stands as a beacon for organizations striving to maintain relevance and excellence. This model, a harmonious blend of innovation and quality management, is a testament to the importance of not only generating groundbreaking ideas but also executing them with precision and in alignment with the highest quality standards.

The Outer Circle - Complex and Changing Existential Reality

Imagine an ocean, vast and unpredictable, representing the external environment where businesses sail. This ocean is shaped by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political) factors. Here, the winds of change are relentless, and the tides of market demands and global trends are ever-shifting. In this realm, agility and adaptiveness are not just beneficial but necessary for survival. The Operative Innovation and Quality Management System Model recognizes this and positions organizations to not just weather these waves but to ride them to new heights of innovation and customer satisfaction.

System's Input - Challenges and Opportunities (Red Section)

In this model, the red section is akin to a lighthouse, illuminating the challenges and opportunities arising from the tumultuous external realities. These are the sparks of innovation, urging the organization to look beyond the horizon and envision what could be. Each challenge and opportunity is a call to action, prompting the creation of a diverse pool of ideas, ready to be refined and transformed into tangible initiatives.

Five key Internal Components


In the ever-evolving seascape of business, where change is as constant as the stars in the sky, the Doctrine (or Business Model) serves not merely as a static guiding star but as an Armillary Sphere — a complex model of the celestial globe, designed for precision and adaptability in navigation. This ancient navigational instrument, capable of being calibrated to the changing positions of the stars, mirrors how a business's guiding principles must be adaptable, evolving in response to the shifting currents of the external environment.


Consider leadership as the captain of the ship, steering the course of the innovation journey. The role of leadership in this model is paramount. It's about setting a visionary compass, providing direction, and fostering an environment where innovation isn’t just a buzzword but a tangible, living part of the organizational fabric.


The ship's crew, with their beliefs and practices, embodies the organization's culture. A culture that champions innovation is one that encourages new ideas, embraces calculated risks, and promotes experimentation. It’s a culture that doesn't just tolerate failure but learns from it, understanding that each misstep is a stepping stone towards groundbreaking innovation.

The Nature of Innovation and Quality Operations

Here, the model presents the innovation process as a funnel, reminiscent of a ship’s telescope, focusing on the distant horizon. Ideas generated from external stimuli are filtered for relevance and potential. As these ideas travel down the funnel, they gain momentum, transforming into initiatives. The true potential of these initiatives is recognized as they mature, ready to be transitioned into structured projects, where they are meticulously executed, ensuring the highest quality standards.

PDCA Cycle

The PDCA Cycle is the map and compass of this model. It stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. This iterative method is the heart of continuous improvement, where opportunities are identified, changes are implemented on a small scale, results are analyzed, and successful strategies are rolled out on a wider scale. It’s a cycle of never-ending refinement and perfection, ensuring that the ship not only reaches its destination but also continuously charts new, more efficient courses.

System's Output - Relevant and Effective Value (Green Section)

The green section is the port where ships laden with treasures return. Here, the matured initiatives, having journeyed through the innovation process, deliver their cargo of value to clients and stakeholders. This value is not just in the form of innovative products or services but also in the satisfaction and trust earned from clients. It's the end result of a journey that starts with an idea and ends with a solution that not only meets but exceeds expectations.

System Model for Sustained Excellence in the Modern Business Seascape

The Innovation and Quality Processes

ISO 56002:2019 - Innovation Process

The innovation process based on ISO 56002:2019 involves configuring innovation processes to suit specific initiatives, allowing for flexibility and adaptability. It includes stages like identifying opportunities, creating concepts, validating concepts, developing solutions, and deploying solutions. These stages involve understanding organizational context, generating ideas, evaluating them for feasibility and value, and then implementing them effectively.

  1. Identify Opportunities: This involves understanding the organization's context, innovation intent, and scope. Insights about market trends, competitor activities, and customer needs are gathered to identify and prioritize opportunities.

  2. Create Concepts: Based on identified opportunities, ideas are generated and evaluated for novelty, risk, feasibility, and value proposition. This stage develops concepts and hypothetical business models.

  3. Validate Concepts: Early validation of concepts through tests, pilots, and studies is crucial. The focus is on reducing uncertainties related to technical, legal, marketing, and financial aspects.

  4. Develop Solutions: Develop the validated concept into a working solution, considering risks, legal requirements, scalability, and intellectual property rights.

  5. Deploy Solutions: This involves making the solution available to the market, promoting it, monitoring adoption rates, and capturing new knowledge to improve future solutions.

System Model for Sustained Excellence in the Modern Business Seascape

ISO 9001:2015 - Quality Process

The quality process based on ISO 9001:2015 focuses on operational planning and control, product and service requirements, design and development, and managing external provisions. It involves ensuring product and service conformity, defining requirements, controlling design and development, and managing changes effectively.

  1. Operational Planning and Control: It requires determining product/service requirements and establishing criteria for process acceptance. Resources are identified to ensure conformity to these requirements.

  2. Design and Development: A comprehensive process for design and development is established, considering the nature and complexity of products/services. This includes planning, inputs, controls, outputs, and changes.

  3. Control of Externally Provided Processes, Products, and Services: This involves ensuring that external products/services meet requirements and do not adversely affect the quality.

  4. Production and Service Provision: Controlled conditions for production and service provision are implemented, including monitoring, measuring, and infrastructure requirements.

  5. Release of Products and Services: Ensuring products and services meet acceptance criteria before release to customers.

Transition from Innovation to Quality Process

while ISO 56002:2019 focuses on the flexible and dynamic generation and validation of innovative concepts, ISO 9001:2015 emphasizes a structured approach to ensuring the quality and consistency of products and services. The transition bridges these two by ensuring that innovations are developed, validated, and implemented in a manner that aligns with established quality standards and customer expectations.

  1. Integration: The transition involves integrating innovative solutions developed from the innovation process into the quality management system.

  2. Alignment with Quality Criteria: The innovation process must align with the quality criteria established in ISO 9001:2015, ensuring they meet customer and regulatory requirements.

From PDCA to Operational Excellence

The PDCA Cycle

The PDCA Cycle is an integral management method used in both innovation and quality management, embodying a continuous improvement ethos. It includes four steps:

  1. Plan: Establish objectives based on insights from VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political) analyses. Develop an operative strategy that aligns with these insights and the organization's goals.

  2. Do: Implement and execute the strategy, testing its viability and impact. This step is about putting plans into action and observing the outcomes.

  3. Check: Analyze the results to ascertain if the strategy was executed as planned and if it achieved the intended value, aligning with the organization's strategic directive.

  4. Act: Based on the evaluation, make decisions to either scale up successful strategies or adjust them. This could involve managerial adjustments or even changes in the organization's strategic direction if necessary.

This cycle ensures that both innovation and quality management processes are dynamic, responsive to changes, and aligned with the overall strategic goals of the organization.

System Model for Sustained Excellence in the Modern Business Seascape

Closing the Loop

By integrating the PDCA cycle explicitly within the model's framework, we create a continuous loop of feedback and advancement, ensuring that our innovation efforts are consistently elevated through quality management practices. The conclusion of each PDCA cycle marks the beginning of a new chapter in our quality and innovation narrative. As we continuously navigate through these cycles, our model becomes more refined, our initiatives more targeted, and our value delivery more impactful.

The Double PDCA Loop Approach

In the context of managing innovation within organizations, the concept of two loops, namely the policy-oriented loop and the management-oriented loop, is crucial. These loops represent two distinct but interconnected aspects of fostering and handling innovation in an organization.

Policy-Oriented PDCA Loop

This loop is primarily concerned with the strategic, overarching policies that govern innovation within the organization. It involves high-level decision-making that sets the direction and framework for innovation activities.

  • Activities: Key activities in this loop include the development of innovation strategies, the establishment of guidelines and principles for innovation, and the allocation of resources towards innovative endeavors.

  • Stakeholders: Typically involves top management, board members, and policy-makers within the organization who have the authority to make strategic decisions.

  • Outcomes: The outcomes of the policy-oriented loop are organizational policies that shape the innovation culture, define priorities, and provide the necessary support systems for innovation to thrive.

  • Challenges: The main challenges in this loop involve ensuring that policies are flexible enough to allow for creativity and experimentation, yet structured enough to align with the organization's overall objectives.

Management-Oriented PDCA Loop

This loop deals with the actual management and execution of innovation initiatives within the framework set by the policy-oriented loop.

  • Activities: Includes managing day-to-day innovation projects, facilitating cross-functional collaboration, implementing innovative ideas, and overseeing the innovation process from ideation to execution.

  • Stakeholders: Involves middle managers, team leaders, and innovation managers who are responsible for translating policies into actionable plans and ensuring that innovative projects are carried out effectively.

  • Outcomes: The primary outcomes are the successful development and implementation of innovative solutions, products, or services that align with the strategic vision set by the policy-oriented loop.

  • Challenges: Challenges here include maintaining alignment with strategic goals, managing risks and uncertainties inherent in innovative projects, and fostering an organizational culture that supports innovation at the operational level.

The Transition between the Two Loops

These two loops are interdependent. The policy-oriented loop sets the stage for innovation by establishing the right environment and strategic direction. The management-oriented loop, on the other hand, brings these strategies to life through practical implementation. Effective innovation management requires a balance and harmony between these two loops, ensuring that policies are not only conducive to innovation but also effectively translated into real-world outcomes.

The Double PDCA Loop Approach

Delivering Output: Relevant and Effective Value

The voyage of the Operative Innovation and Quality Management System Model culminates in the essential act of delivering output that encapsulates relevant and effective value. This is not merely a transaction but a pivotal moment where the innovative journey meets the market's reality. Service delivery must pivot on the axis of quality and customer satisfaction, ensuring that each project not only fulfills its purpose but also exceeds expectations. The value of innovation is constantly assessed against the backdrop of identified opportunities and challenges, ensuring that the fruits of innovation resonate with stakeholders and the market alike. The ultimate barometer of success lies in the tangible impact of these innovations, a testament to their efficacy and their harmony with the dynamic business landscape. As organizations set their sails by this model, they navigate not just toward survival but toward thriving in the complex tides of global business.

Charting the Course of Innovation and Quality

In a business realm defined by volatility and rapid evolution, the Operative Innovation and Quality Management System Model emerges as a guiding star for organizations. This model marries the agility of innovation with the robustness of quality management, forming a holistic approach to business excellence. From the sparks of innovation kindled in the red section of challenges and opportunities to the structured, methodical processes of design and development outlined by ISO 56002:2019 and ISO 9001:2015, this model is a blueprint for transformative success. The PDCA Cycle weaves through this narrative as the strategic compass for continuous improvement, a relentless pursuit of refinement, and perfection. As organizations navigate through this journey, they are primed to deliver outstanding value, capturing the essence of their innovative endeavors and translating them into customer satisfaction and market success. It is this delivery of relevant and effective value that marks the zenith of the innovation and quality odyssey, a testament to an organization's ability to not just adapt to but shape the future of the business ecosystem.

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