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A lot of people talk about innovative companies. All the management magazines and books refer always to the same select group of Apple, Google, 3M, Microsoft, P&G, BMW, Facebook, Virgin, Samsung, WAL-MART, Toyota, Amazon, INTEL, Starbucks and a few others.
But so few people really work in them. This means a whole lot of people are working in not so innovative organisations. You are probably one of them, or a consultant advising them.
In your business practice there will be moments you think ‘we really need to innovate’. A lot of reasons may cause this:
…there’s a big difference between inventing and innovation.
My strongest advice to you is to never start product or service innovation with an idea. This might sound very strange. You associate innovation strongly with inventing new ideas. But there’s a big difference between inventing and innovation. You can invent on your own. But in an organisation you can never innovate alone! You need R&D engineers, production managers, IT staff, financial controllers, marketers and sales people to develop the product or service, produce it and get it out on the market. And your top management to get priority and resources. That’s why starting ideation or creating innovation initiatives yourself is so ineffective in organisations. And only one and a half out of seven new product ideas is really introduced (Robert G. Cooper, 2011).
You should never start spontaneous and unprepared. As good preparation not only increases the chances of success but it also creates priorities, direction and the will to succeed. That’s why it is essential to start with a clear and concrete innovation assignment, involving your top managers. This forces the top management in your company, from the start, to be concrete about the market/target group for which the innovations must be developed and which criteria these new concepts must meet. This forms the guidelines for you and your innovation team when you are underway. You can formulate the innovation assignment with the help of the following six questions:
In discussion with your top management, you can collectively formulate which criteria the new product/service ideas must meet as well as determine the ambition level.
This innovation assignment gives direction and manages expectations of both the top management as the members of the innovation team. You can download a free checklist on how to make an innovation assignment at the website of the FORTH innovation method.
I wish you a lot of success jump-starting innovation: not with an idea but with a concrete assignment!