A study by Booz & Company shows only a quarter of all companies are effective at the start of innovation. And Stage-Gate Guru Robert Cooper shows that of every seven new product/service projects, about four enter development, 1.5 are launched, andonly one succeeds.
Innovation is difficult to master. In my experience from practice, innovation really is a balancing act. It's all about finding the right balance between:
the business of today and the business of tomorrow;
creativity and business reality;
'outside the box' and 'inside the box';
breakthrough thinking and feasibility;
customer interests and company's interests;
breaking rules and fitting existing patterns;
risks and rewards.
Innovation confronts you with a lot of questions on how to start it the right way. I like to inspire you with 12 practical tips to reduce innovation failures at the start: ' a good start is half the battle'.
Create momentum for your innovation project. There must be urgency otherwise innovation is considered as playtime and nobody will be prepared to go outside the box. If this is not the case: stimulate other managers to explore your fast changing environment and wait until they get nervous and will prioritize innovation.
It is essential to start your innovation project with a clear and concrete innovation assignment. This forces the top management, 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 underway.
Use a team approach to get both better innovation results and internal supporters for the innovative outcomes. Invite people for whom the assignment is personally relevant. Invite both people for content as for decision-making reasons. Invite also a couple of outsiders as outside-the-box thinkers. Get a good mix between men and women, young & old, et cetera.
Let the internal top problem-owner (vice-president) and important influencersparticipate in the innovation team.
Use a structured approach. To think outside the box is a good start. But you have to come back with innovative concepts, which fit the ‘in the box’ reality of your organization, otherwise nothing will happen. A structured approach helps you to connect the dots. The FORTH innovation method, f.e. connects creativity and business reality in five steps in a great visual way. FORTH is an acronym and stands for Full steam ahead, Observe and learn, Raise ideas, Test ideas and Homecoming.
New products, - services or - business models fit 7 criteria. Use them actively in your project: 1. It is very appealing to customers. 2. It stands out in the market. 3. It has great potential for extra turnover. 4. It has adequate profit potential. 5. It fits management’s personal goals. 6. It is (somehow) considered quickly feasible. 7. It has internal support.
When you ideate unprepared with the usual colleagues hardly anything new appears. That’s why it is essential to get fresh insights before you start creating ideas. Let all team members visit customers and others that serve as a source of inspiration for innovation opportunities
Winning new concepts give potential customers a concrete reason to change. It will solve relevant problems of customers. If you want to create innovative products or services start with discovering relevant customer frictions to solve. There are several ways to discover them, like personal visits, focus groups, web searching and crowd sourcing,
Visualize your ideas and new concepts. Make prototypes as soon as possible.
Keep the pace of your innovation process going; otherwise it becomes long-winded and boring. It gets killed when it takes too long without any progress.
How attractive are the new product or service concepts really? That’s a legitimate question. Therefore you should check the strength of the new concepts and prototypes among potential customers at the front end of innovation. Use the voice of the customer internally.
Draft mini new business cases instead of coming up with post-its or mood boards. And substantiate, in a businesslike and convincing manner, to what degree and for what reason the new concept can meet all essential financial criteria of your organization.