Innovation ISO: companies get ready for the new economy

With the new technologies and digital tools of Industry 4.0, companies need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and competitive. Considering this new business scenario, ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has launched a standard focused on what companies are most looking for today: innovation.

ISO 56002 is a management system standard that structures the innovation process within a company. It is like a guide that establishes the guidelines for innovation management, helping companies in the transformations generated by new technologies and disruptive business models.

The new standard, also known as ISO innovation, can be adopted by companies of any size or sector. It was released worldwide in July 2019 and, so far, few companies have obtained the certification, such as Airbus and Total (fuels).

In Latin America, MZF4 – a company of the Mazzaferro Group, headquartered in São Paulo – was the first to achieve ISO 56002.

Optimistic outlook for market adoption

ISO is an international non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, which brings together experts from 163 countries to share knowledge and develop international standards.

In the 1980s, the quality management system, the famous ISO 9001, was widely adopted by companies around the world. In the 1990s, it was the turn of the environmental certification ISO 14001.

“In the 2000s, with globalization, other concerns arose in companies and the standards created were directed towards compliance and occupational health, for example. Today there are more than 50 different business systems,” says Alexandre Pierro, an expert in management systems from the Palas consulting firm.

With the advance of technology and the changes in the business scenario, the ISO innovation committee started to observe the best practices in this area in different countries. From this, standard 56002 was born, a compilation of experiences, concepts, tools and methods on innovation.

Alexandre Pierro, from Palas Consulting

“In the next few years, the market expects 500 organizations to achieve ISO innovation. By 2021, the forecast is that between 50 and 100 Brazilian companies will have this certification. The ISO for innovation will be what the ISO for quality was in the 80s and 90s,” Pierro bets.

Benefits for companies

It is common for each company or professional to understand innovation in a different way. In this sense, the 56002 norm brings a global consensus on the theme, standardizing metrics, fundamentals and vocabulary. This facilitates, for example, benchmarking between companies in different countries.

“It’s like a universal language for everyone,” says Pierro. “Good metrics and international standards help companies to be robust, with more assertive and long-lasting businesses,” he adds.

The specialist mentioned other benefits of ISO 56002 to the GS1 Brasil News Portal report:

• transform ideas into results
• improve stakeholder engagement
• reinforce the company’s purpose, which is totally linked to innovation
• create products with higher added value
• conquer new markets
• manage the insights generated by employees
• create a culture of innovation throughout the company
• assist in integration with other ISO standards

Despite these advantages, many professionals question: does establishing a standard restrict the innovation process? “This is a misconception. Creativity without process does not generate value,” says Pierro. “If we take a close look at the leading companies in innovation, such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, among others, they all have process methodology as their great north.”

MZF4 is a pioneer in ISO 56002 in Latin America

MZF4 is a creative economy company of the Mazzaferro Group that seeks to add value by transforming nylon thread and other materials into products that serve about 50 production chains in more than 50 countries, such as, for example, musical strings, bristles for dental brushes, medical sutures, color cards for the beauty industry, and industrial sewing lines for the automotive industry.

It was the first to obtain ISO 56002 in Latin America. “In the same week that the standard was published, we received the certification, because we had already started working on it a year before”, says MZF4’s CMO, Fabrício Saad. According to him, the search for certification came from the top management of the Mazzaferro Group, which saw an opportunity to improve processes, organizing innovation activities in favor of the business, which has been in the market for 66 years.

MZF4’s marketing and innovation area led the initiative within the organization, which involved other areas, such as human resources, administrative, financial, industrial, research and development, and quality departments. The entire trajectory to obtain certification took about a year and the company had the support of the Palas management consulting firm.

Throughout the process, MZF4 underwent four audits – internal, external, and two other stages with certifying institutions. “The implementation did not demand a radical change in the company’s culture, because we already had the DNA of innovation. But it did require a differentiated vision and a greater engagement of employees to create innovation processes and methodologies to optimize what we were already doing,” says Fabrício.

Innovative idea flow

At MZF4, the benefits of certification are already visible. “As a practical result, we had a considerable increase in the number of new ideas. We have also noticed an improvement in the employee satisfaction index, as they feel that their ideas are listened to and implemented”, says the executive.

This is because the company improved several initiatives that it was already doing to foster innovation. Thus, it launched the Eureka program for employees to collaborate with ideas, structured the innovation committee, and also design thinking activities.

“From the most tangible point of view, we can say that, although it is difficult to isolate a single variable, is that the quality of the ideas implemented as a result of the ISO procedure has also improved,” evaluates the executive.

For companies that wish to obtain ISO 56002, Fabrício – who is also coordinator of the MBA at ESPM – gives a hint. “Innovating is much better, more rewarding and less risky than not innovating. This standard brings a methodology and helps us reflect on how to innovate and even reduce the risks involved. It is very worthwhile.

MZF4 structured activities, such as the design thinking workshop, to obtain ISO 56002

Tips to get ISO 56002 certification

To obtain the ISO for innovation, companies need to embark on a journey to adjust several processes. Alexandre Pierro, from Palas consulting, shares some insights:

• ISO 56002 can be implemented in a department, in the entire company, or only in some branches. “The greater the scope, the better the innovation management. But since it is a business standard, it needs to follow the company’s strategy,” says Pierro.

• For best results, it is important to aggregate all the standards of the family, which include knowledge management, tools, methodologies, performance and innovation indicators (Ex: ISO 56000, ISO 56003 and ISO 56004).

• Companies can implement ISO 56002 internally, with their own team, or count on the support of specialized consultants. Certification is done by certifying institutions.

• By using the best practices in innovation processes, it is possible to implement the project in a period of 6 to 10 months.

Published in GS1 Brasil on January 22nd, 2020: