First things first, and something that businesses often overlook when working on innovation, is that it isn’t just about ideas.
At the heart of it, innovation centres around insights, prototypes and commercial projects too. Although of course, a great idea helps somewhat too. Here I have outlined the four phases of innovation to help any business navigate their future innovation needs:
Phase 1 – Investigation: The initial part of the process is all about discovering insights. Ensure you have a process that generates insights from your stats (eg. sales, marketing, refunds, breakdowns etc.), insights from new emerging trends, and insights into what customer needs, desires, aversions and obstructions are. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to design an innovation process targeted towards your specific business needs.
Phase 2 – Ideation: It’s key to make time to generate ideas, and lots of them! Be that by setting a KPI for the number of ideas created at each weekly meeting, or however you want to do it. On top of this, drop any expectations that you already have of quality. Quality follows quantity. So, start by generating a tonne of ideas, and the good ones will appear.
Phase 3 – Iteration: Ensure you have processes to test and prototype ideas rapidly and cost effectively to minimise risk and gain certainty. There’s no point having great ideas that just aren’t going to work for your business model somehow.
Phase 4 – Commercialisation: Treat innovation as seriously as any other part of your business by creating metrics that measure the number of ideas, insights and prototypes created each quarter. As well as this, have processes that allow innovation projects ideas to become billable projects.
The following infographic illustrates the practical applications of the phases and some of the industry sectors in which they can be most effective.
Nils Vesk, Innovation Architect Nils and host of “The Next Big Thing” Masterclasses