I’ve written a number or times about innovation over the past few years but until now, not about the process or how to improve your innovation capabilities. So what better time than now.
There are three (3) basic steps to a successful innovation process for any company. Some are good at all three, like Apple and General Electric, but many companies aren’t.
Step 1 – Generating Ideas
The first step is “idea generation”. Although it may sound simple, some companies have trouble generating new ideas. Either because they don’t encourage it of the employees don’t feel compelled or valued enough to generate them. Either way, the path to innovation must start with a steady stream of new ideas.
A simple way to address this issue if your company has trouble generating new ideas is to hold regular meetings where time is spent just brainstorming. You’d be surprised how effective a simple brainstorming session can be.
Step 2 – Evaluating & Developing New Ideas
Once you have a few ideas the next step is to evaluate, prioritize and develop a short list of the ideas for further consideration. Like a typical sales funnel, not all prospects or leads will be successful. The same holds true for new ideas. Some sound good at first but after a little extra thought turn out to be weak ideas. This should not deter you.
What’s critical at this stage is that you have a disciplined process for tracking and evaluating the ideas in order to sort the weak ones from the stronger ones. This starts with having a clear set of parameters or goals for the innovation process. Filtering the new ideas through an initial screening of business criteria will help manage the number of ideas that get considered.
From here, ideas that have market potential need to be assigned resources/people to scope them out and do some basic business evaluations. This step will further reduce the number of projects to a manageable number that can be reasonably evaluated through to a business case. Many companies struggle at this stage because the process isn’t clear or management priorities change. This is where discipline is needed to ensure that ideas don’t get lost or re-prioritized and never get developed. It can have a lasting affect on morale.
Obviously there are many more steps to developing an idea into a commercially viable product but the critical part of the process is sorting through the ideas to determine which ones should be developed further or ignored…….wrong decisions can be costly.
Step 3 – Launching a New Product/Service
Once a new idea has gone through the development process and has become a viable business opportunity the next step is to engage the organization to support it. For companies that launch very few new products, this can be a daunting task. For others, it’s a key step that will ensure success of a new product.
What companies fail to realize is that new products get ‘one kick at the can’ and that’s it. First impressions are lasting. New products must be developed that solve customer problems and deliver value. Anything less is not worth the time and perhaps valuable resources could be better spent elsewhere.
To learn more about about we can help you improve your innovation efforts contact us today at 1-416-4435-5290