Building an Innovation Process in your Business

The first two stages of developing new business ideas involves working with the right brain, – the creative side of thinking – and if done correctly will foster creativity, not for the sake of being creative, but for the sake of solving customer problems.

 Following successful implementation of the first step by establishing the right time and environment in which creativity can blossom, it is now time to move on to the next step;

 

Step 2 – IDEA DEVELOPMENT

This stage consists of four processes,

  • Inputs
  • Capturing Concepts
  • Joining the Dots
  • Divergence &  the “Ahh-Ha” moment

Inputs

After setting employees free to generate creative business ideas focused on specific business niches, we can’t expect ideas to just start popping up out of nowhere. We must provide some stimulation to get the ideas flowing.

So it’s not a matter of just saying “OK what ideas have you all got?”, we must arouse the groups thought patterns so that eventually business ideas start to flow. There are any number of activities that can be conducted, but the key is to not be trying go straight for the solution. We need to unpack things a little first. Hold the group back from supplying solutions just yet, we need to fully understand the problems first.

A simple Now, Where, How group exercise can work well or another is What’s Working and What’s Not Working is another good place to start. You may well have over the years experienced any number of “Status Quo” or “Where are we” type activities, well now is the time to run them. There are loads of tools I use to help analyse businesses, but we’ll talk about these more another day.

Another way of providing input, is to have some stories or examples brought to the group. This may be provided first hand by yourself or other member of the group, or may take the form of customer testimonials, interesting news articles, trending topics on social media or video content of some cool concept or emotional change event that has taken place relevant to your topic.

All the while encourage discussion and understanding with a focus on what are the problems and challenges faced by our users.

 

Capturing Concepts

As these activities are being ran, encourage participants to hold their business ideas till the end. Have them jot them down on a note pad and stay involved in the exercise. But we’re not looking for the ideas at this stage just yet.

As the exercises are being ran it is important everyone is capturing their thoughts. It’s best if there is not just one person putting it all on the whiteboard, but all participants are capturing it from their individual perspectives. Using sticky notes is a great method. As problems, patterns and processes are understood we must continually gather this new level of understanding. Sure we should have a leader who helps facilitate and pull it all together, but we want all input at this stage.

Our aim is to get to a point where we say something like “Wow, I had no idea….”

Problem first, solution second.

 

Joining the Dots

Now it’s time to see all the brilliant new ideas come to the surface.

In all the data capture it’s now time to look for common threads or unusual associations. We must challenge everything and be constantly asking ‘why’. Do not accept dogma, reject the way it’s always been done. The answers to these questions will give you an analysis of the current business situation and allow you to narrow the focus for the creative development of business ideas even further. A great activity here is the “5 Whys”, where you simply ask why, 5 times in response the answer given to the previous why. (much like a child does).

At this stage of the innovation process it is important to let creative ideas flow from anywhere. You must DAY DREAM a little. No idea is a bad idea, record them all. Let the mind go and start to think ‘If money were no object’ and ‘If I had a magic wand’, what would I do then? Continual reflect back on the white board, draw, scribble, move sticky notes, relate and connect.

Continually ask the question “What if we…..{amazing out there concept}….how would that make the user feel? ”

The goal at this stage of innovation is to induce an “ahh-ha!” reaction or a light bulb moment, where the solution suddenly appears before your eyes, (or at least appears in your mind).

 

Diverge & Discover the “Ahh-Ha” moment

If the “Ahh-Ha’ doesn’t come  right away, all is OK. We need to understand the power of diverging.

Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m mowing the lawns. Yep that’s right, mowing the lawns! No white board, no focus group, no inputs. Well I tell a lie really, the inputs have already been done, at another time is all. It’s not until I turn my attention to something else that the power of my subconscious brain goes to work.

I’m sure some of you can relate to this, you’re best ideas come to you when you’re in the most unrelated and likely, inconvenient places. Like when you’re asleep for example! Well for me it’s when I’m gardening.

It is important to diverge in order to let the ideas manifest in your subconscious, as this is often when our greatest creations and achievements are being devised. Going for a walk, completing a puzzle, having a coffee or even a nap can all temporarily distract your conscious brain from the task at hand, while your subconscious mind busily works to uncover the solution you have been seeking.

The most important thing to remember at this point in the innovation process however, is that once you have your “ahh-ha” moment, your new business idea, you mustn’t get stuck here with a just a fantastic idea and no further action.

 

In order to see success you must continually push and act on the ideas; being creative is not enough, you must take action in order to see your business grow and thrive in the market.

So capture the “Ahh-Ha”, then get ready to act. Which is what I’ll cover in the next article, Step 3 – Build, Test, Refine

 

BizScaping is a Boutique Business Coaching Enterprise focused on Real Action and Real Results. You can follow our Blog here or reach out to us if you’d like to know more about how to take your existing or new Business in a better direction. #outsourceyourstrategy