Sep 13, 2013 | In: Organization & Culture
Is it possible to identify the best innovators in an organization? Most companies know who their best performers are and this is true for almost every critical initiative except innovation. A current research initiative from Jeffery Phillips is delving deeper into the possibilities to identify the potential of an individual to be a good innovator based on shared traits. The goal is to develop a simple assessment tool that any corporation can use to identify the most talented potential innovators on its team, or to use to identify and hire new people with innovation capabilities.
As innovation becomes an important skill set, large organizations will seek to obtain training for their employees. We stand on the brink of an innovation training “land rush” with few rules and little information to identify the best programs. Evaluating an innovation training program is critical. Assess programs based on their depth, the experience of the trainers, the referenced body of knowledge and the inclusion of practical examples and hands-on exercises. Ignore certifications, because no standard exists.
The results from the ethnography along with the scenario planning made a big impact on the Accipiter executives. A number of people entered the meeting as skeptics and left, if not as believers, with a different perspective. What does this triumph mean for Marlow and his innovation team? Find out in the conclusion of Pulp Innovation.
Marlow was well aware there was skepticism about the use of ethnography and observation as a way to suss out new product needs. He’s intent to demonstrate just how valuable his team’s work has been. He sets out to shock the Accipiter Executives with their approach and awe them with the results.
After watching the video footage of interviews with maintenance engineers, designers and installers, Marlow has identified at least three areas of potential need for further investigation. He suspects there are tools and procedures that can be created to simplify the work, or a simple redesign that could make all the difference.
The Accipiter innovation team conducts their first field observation and everyone is impressed with the insights gained in just a few hours. The enthusiasm builds and many are ready to start idea generation after one visit, but Marlow asks them to document everything and keep an open mind and no pre-conceived notions for the next visits.
Just as the Accipiter innovation team starts catching their stride, an executive requests a report on their results. Having to spend time creating reports which remind executives that it will take several months to get the project off the ground takes time and focus away from the real work, and sparks questions in even the most committed team members mind. How will Marlow proceed?
Marlow prepares his team to head out into the field to observe the behavior of people using Accipiter’s products as part of a larger product or service. When he receives resistance from a team member who believes in the statistical significance of surveys, he asks everyone to go into this with an open mind and the right attitude. He hopes to identify unmet or unspoken needs and identify behaviors that can lead to new opportunities.
With the first innovation effort under way, Marlow sets out to gradually shift the corporate culture of Accipiter to encourage more innovation. His mission begins with finding a champion in the HR department.
Marlow approaches the CFO with a request for innovation funds expecting him to hem and haw, and say they need more evidence and a better projection of the results of the work. Instead, he is pleasantly surprised…
While forming a plan of action for a business to business firm, Marlowe faces the dilemma of figuring out who is the nominal customer. Do they take for granted that their intermediate customers know their markets, and respond to their needs, or do they reach out and understand the end consumers’ needs?
Marlowe and his team-mates sit down with an endless stack of customer satisfaction surveys and market research, however none of the documents paint the full picture they’re looking for. The reports explain a lot about what existing customers think about existing products, but they don’t shed much light on their unmet needs. So the team starts to draft a proposal for ethnographic or qualitative research that will help uncover beneficial insights.
With three competing scenarios mapped out based on different market trends, Marlowe buckles down with the Accipiter team to identify the opportunities and threats among them. The next important steps towards developing new products depend on the unfolding opportunities identified in this process.
With a full plate at Accipiter Marlowe fears he has neglected his personal life to the point of no return, or is there still hope for a lonely innovation consultant?
When the crew from Marlowe Innovation meets for lunch they review their recent projects and new clients. With more requests for innovation training, they realize that many firms are discovering that they can bring in house a lot of the work they’ve outsourced to the bigger consultancies.