The 5-Step Innovation Process: Step 1 – Focus

by | Sep 20, 2023 | Innovation

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If you want innovation to happen within your organisation, it’s important that everyone has a common understanding of what innovation is and how to do it.

I have addressed what innovation is in another article. In terms of how to innovate, you need a simple and easy-to-understand process.

Having an innovation process that is commonly understood provides everyone with a common language for which step they are currently in and what they need to achieve in that step. It also ensures that important steps, that could mean the difference between success and failure, are not missed.

We train people in The 5-Step Innovation Process. In this post, I’ll explain the first step of this process, FOCUS.

So how do you decide where to FOCUS your innovation efforts?

It’s important that innovation efforts are aligned with your organisation’s strategy. If you try to innovate in areas outside where your organisation is aspiring to go, it is as if you are trying to kick a goal into nets that are on a completely different playing field than the one the organisation is playing in.

This first step is about getting clear on WHERE you will focus. It’s vital that you invest the time to clearly articulate the business objective that your innovation efforts will help achieve. Key stakeholders should also be aligned on this. If you don’t do this, you will waste resources and potentially set yourself up for conflict with those key stakeholders down the track.

FOCUS needs you to think strategically.

Whilst everyone loves to throw around the word strategy, being strategic with innovation means you need to make deliberate choices about where you need to do something differently to solve a problem for the organisation that will help it achieve its goals and vision.

A simple way to consider an area for FOCUS is to ask yourself… “If we were to continue working in the same way as we have been, we won’t achieve our goal”. In fact, some might say that if you expected a different result it would be insanity…

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.Albert Einstein

Here are two examples of potential areas for Focus, one internal, involving employees, and one external, involving an offering to the market:

  • The latest annual employee engagement survey has indicated that employee engagement is down. If you were to continue working in the same way, without taking any different actions, you might well expect the level of engagement to stay low or worse, continue to drop over the next 12 months. You need to do something different! 

YOUR OBJECTIVE: To increase employee engagement, as measured in the next Employee Engagement Survey.

  • A new competitor has entered the market with a product that performs better than yours in an area you have always promoted as leading with. If you were to continue without taking any different actions, you may well expect this to continue to drop over the next 12 months. You need to do something different! 

YOUR OBJECTIVE: To maintain/increase market share with your product by 30 June 2024.
(We will come to this later in the process, but when you get close to your customer and explore & define the problems they experience, you may discover that your offering is favoured because of how it performs on a different dimension to how you have promoted it, such as your great customer service! You could then innovate on a different dimension than the competing offering.)

Want to try it out?

Download the Focus Template. This template is a key tool that I train and coach organisations in how to use. Give it a go and see if it helps you get FOCUS. The next step is to get close to your key customers associated with this area of focus and Explore & Define the Problem they experience.

We are aiming to find a customer problem (Step 2), that if we can solve it, will also enable us to achieve our business objective (Step 1).

This creates a win-win situation where customers win and we win! We love win-wins!

Need help with innovating? Contact us.

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