Innovation is that interesting thing where people tell me that it is very IMPORTANT to their organisation. Perhaps it is a key strategic pillar or a core value of the organisation. This is good, it should be recognised as important. We are living in a fast moving, agile and disruptive world. Innovation is really important to our future growth.
But, how URGENT is innovation to your organisation? When I ask people this question, they pause for a moment, wondering what the difference is or if it’s a trick question. To clarify, I follow by asking two questions:
“How much time does the organisation dedicate to developing the skills and mindsets required to cultivate and drive innovation?”
“How much time does it dedicate to conducting the activities to deliver innovation?”
In most cases, the response is “not much” or “not enough.” And here is the core of the problem.
Most organisations understand the importance of innovation but fail to recognise or appreciate the urgency. Business-As-Usual (BAU) activities are often seen as higher urgency and therefore take priority. If left unchecked they swallow time and as a result nothing new is ever achieved. With a lack of urgency, innovation is put on the back burner. It becomes that thing we will get to “once we have some clear air”, or “once we have got this new client project out of the way”, or “we’ll start next quarter once we have closed that big order”. The thing about business and life in general is there is always something just around the corner to distract us and swallow our time.
What is stopping us is a lack of strategic prioritisation. Because innovation is the ‘Process of translating an idea to reality that creates value’ it is not easily quantified. How long will it take? How much will it cost? How many people will need to be involved? What will the returns be? – So many business unknowns, and often we won’t see immediate results, therefore BAU activities take precedence.
There is a wise proverb that says; “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. But the second-best time is today!” The same goes for innovation. It is the thing most organisations turn to once they have tried everything else. When there is strategic intent and prioritisation the first step is taken, but what are the next steps in the journey?
This is when a clear process for innovation is useful. A set of steps to follow that will deliver insights, discoveries, ideas, tests, data and new results rigorously and consistently. This is where Design Thinking comes in as a process with simple steps, tools and methodologies that deliver tangible and valuable results quickly and consistently. At G2 we have evolved, and battle hardened, our Design Thinking methodology to consist of four process steps: Discover, Design, Develop & Deliver.
Discover is about understanding what your users want and need. This is where we explore and understand needs and problems deeply, learning what is impacting and causing them and how our users think, feel and act. We call this falling in love with the problem before we get into solution mode so that we are not biased or influenced by a single solution and keep our minds open to opportunities.
Stage two, Design, is where we take all of this insight around wants and needs and come up with ideas to solve and improve. Lots of ideas! After all, the best way to come up with a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
Stage three is about quick and simple low-cost prototyping to Develop the best-looking ideas and get early data and feedback to steer their development. This is very often called low-fidelity testing and prototyping.
This transitions us into the final stage, Deliver which is about rolling those experiments out to a wider audience of end users in the market and gathering wider and deeper insight and data to adjust and refine the solution further. The process methodology is a circle, so this brings you back round to the Discover stage and the process continues building and driving new discoveries and developments ensuring your innovation activities and outputs remain relevant, valuable and sustainable.
Having a clearly defined process, with easily implementable tools is very powerful. Think about it. All of our BAU activity has processes associated to them, sales, marketing, finance, strategy etc. People know what to do, where, when and how. It provides knowledge and confidence. It can be practiced, measured and improved. People can embrace a process that makes sense and delivers results. So, if you want innovation to move from the to-do list to doing every day then ensure there is clear strategic intent and vision as well as a clear and repeatable process for people to follow.
Learn more about our methodology for innovation at these workshops…