The purpose of innovation is to turn ideas into a reality that adds value. Innovation is about responding to your end-user needs by developing ideas, products, services or processes that meet their demands now and most importantly, into the future.
Not sure where to start? Here’s ten quick tips for innovation beginners.
1. Own an Innovation Process
A disciplined innovation process allows you and the people in your organisation to discover, create and develop ideas, then refine, test and, finally, implement them. When different teams in one organisation follow different processes, silos and competitive behaviour develop. Get on board with one methodology for the entire company and own it.
At G2 we use a Design Thinking Framework with 4 phases: Discover, Design, Develop and Deliver. Each phase being rigorously iterated until you are ready to launch. Design Thinking provides tools for identifying your end-users needs, it enables you to empathise with their problems, ideate solutions, develop prototypes and rapidly test them. We rate Design Thinking above any other process, because it’s not just a series of linear steps, it also embeds a user-centric mindset in those that use it, and it develops 21st century skills such as problem solving, experimentation and agility.
2. Find your purpose
Your purpose is not what you do, it’s why you do it. It is the rudder that keeps your organisation on course. It needs to be clear, succinct and well known throughout the organisation so that it resonates through every employee and underlies every decision. It helps you avoid projects that don’t support it, re-focus when you’re off course, and choose employees that believe in it as much as you do.
Further reading: Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why.
Blog: The Power of Purpose
3. Get to Know Your End User
As the age of the consumer, end-users are no longer passive observers of our products and services. They are active participants who know more about your product, and your competitors, than ever before. This means not just guessing what your end user wants because that’s what you’ve always done. Who are they? Where are they? What are their pain points? What do they want? And are they finding it with your organisation?
This is now a two-way conversation and there are multiple ways to get to know your end users: surveys, case studies, interviews, data, customer journey mapping and empathy mapping are examples.
Take a look at our infographic: 4 Steps to User-Empathy
4. Assemble a team of innovation champions
You can’t be a lone wolf in the innovation game. An innovation team will help you find new growth, fresh perspective and will spread the future thinking mindset and skill set throughout the organisation. A broad mix of people from all levels of your organisation will ensure this team is analytical and creative in equal measure, with networks as broad as their skill set.
Further reading: How to Select a Team of Innovation Champions
5. Know your Marketplace
This includes knowing what your competitors are up to – what weaknesses can you improve upon? What gaps can you exploit? You don’t want to blindly follow what they are doing but it is imperative that you know where they are and where they are going.
The best way to foresee and possibly avoid disruption is to know your market place. What is the market doing? Be aware of advances in technology, changes in trends or consumer behaviour in your industry.
6. Make Time to Innovate
Don’t make innovation an afterthought or wait until you have finished your current project because that time will never come. Start by challenging yourself to spend 15 minutes a day nutting out an idea or exploring a new opportunity and be sure that this is imparted to everyone in your innovation team.
Google famously has 20 Percent Time. Employees are encouraged to dedicate 20% of their working hours to projects they think will most benefit Google. Gmail, Google Maps, Adsense and Google News are just some of the projects that have come out of this initiative.
Further reading: Making Time for Innovation
7. Find the right tools
While you can dig a hole with a screwdriver, a shovel is more effective. The right tools at the right time can save you a lot of time, resources, and frustration. Customer journey maps, User Empathy Maps, Storyboarding, Lo-Fi Prototyping and idea storming are just some of the innovation tools that help identify problems, create projects and develop creative ideas quickly and effectively.
Design Thinking: The One Day Workshop is a practical introduction to the tools used in various stages of the innovation process.
8. Invest in your People
Investing in your people is a no-brainer. Not only will it increase productivity and staff retention, it will encourage an innovative culture that supports your overall purpose. Create opportunities for training to inspire new thoughts, ideas and approaches, reward leaders and coach under-performers.
People want their work to have meaning and they want the ability to shape their work environment. Education, workshops, innovation training, Design Sprints and conferences provide opportunities for a fresh perspective.
9. Don’t get lost in the present and the past
The future is where it’s at when it comes to innovation. Keeping an eye on the horizon at all times allows you to foresee industry changes, technological advances or revolutions in consumer trends before they are on your doorstep, or worse still, in the rear-view mirror.
Further reading: Download our Guide to the Future
10. Contact G2
We are passionate about delivering growth through innovation. We are innovation explorers, we scrutinise and research the techniques and tools of innovation bringing the most effective to you to help you deliver results. If you want some help on your innovation journey, phone us on (03) 9020 7341 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to innovation. Sorry! But these ten tips will certainly help you get on your way. Talk to us about Design Thinking training, Innovation Transformation programs or Design Sprints.