Innovation projects often begin like this: a handful of people get squeezed into a room to hold a brainstorming session. Wild ideas are generously tossed around in an excited atmosphere of creativity and discovery.
After this magical light-bulb moment, however, the initial enthusiasm quickly dies off. A few months later, the commercially valuable outcome of said brainstorm turns out to be … well, disappointing. More often than not, this leads to frustration and convinces organizations to go back to what they do best: making money through good old predictable business models.
Although brilliant, novel ideas are essential, hard work will always be an essential part of successful innovation. As Thomas Edison once put it: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Renewing products, services or business processes is a two-part challenge: seeing new possibilities is one thing, but executing the ideas is a whole different ball game. Not realizing this simple fact is one of three main reasons why innovation fails.
The ideation phase of innovation is sometimes called the ‘fuzzy front-end’. It’s a messy and unregulated blizzard of ideas and possibilities. The ‘back-end’ is where things get more organized and linear. Breathing life into the ideas requires careful planning, technical development, commercialization strategies and much more. In short: it requires efficient and goal-oriented management.
Successful innovation is a complex process that goes through a number of stages. Each stage requires a specific set of skills. We link innovation-related behavior to three process stages:
By assessing the innovation skills of their existing and future employees, companies can compose specialized innovation dream teams. Through coaching, re-orientation or targeted hires, they can gradually strive towards an effective mix of ideators, champions and implementators.
These teams are able to go beyond the ‘fuzzy front-end’. They make changes that add value, in terms of either revenue growth or increased operational efficiency. After all, that’s what innovation is all about.
By Jef Vandenberghe
Jef Vandenberghe has been working in innovation consulting for over 10 years. He witnessed innovation success and failure. Intrigued by the human side of innovation he founded INNDUCE.me – the first tool helping you to compose successful teams & to develop a strategy that boosts your innovation success.