Innovate like a pro: The five steps you need to know

by | Feb 9, 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 here. In terms of how to innovate, you need a simple and easy-to-understand process.

Having an innovation process that is commonly understood provides your people 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.

Over the years, I’ve trained people in innovation with different processes depending on what was already embedded in training programs. Too often, I’ve found them too long, with too many steps, or with names of steps that seem vague as to what is included in the step.

From my experience of seeing what has worked and not, in practice, I developed a 5-Step Innovation Process.

Step 1: Focus

Where will we focus our innovation efforts? It is important that our innovation efforts are aligned with our organisation’s strategy. If we try to innovate in areas outside where our organisation is aspiring to go, it is as if we are trying to kick a goal into nets that are on a completely different playing field than the one our organisation is playing in. This first step is about getting clear on your focus. It is vital that you invest the time to clearly articulate the business objective that your innovation efforts will help achieve.

Step 2: Explore and Define the Problem

Who’s problem? The customer. The customer could be who you typically consider as a customer (a person who buys our products or services), or another stakeholder group such as employees. Importantly, the customer you choose to target is the one that if you solve a problem for them, you will also achieve the business objective that you articulated in Step 1.

You need to get close to your chosen customers and EXPLORE what they are trying to achieve, or their Job-to-be-done (JTBD), and what frustrations they experience as they try to achieve these things. Each frustration that a customer experiences represents an opportunity for you to innovate around. Once you have captured a number of these opportunities, you need to DEFINE the SINGLE biggest opportunity for the customer and your organisation. Once you have the opportunity defined, you can move to Step 3.

Step 3: Ideate and Prioritise to find a Solution

To ideate involves generating lots of different and original ideas. Creativity is key in this step. Once you have lots of different ideas, you need to PRIORITISE, that is to make a decision as to which idea you want to take forward. Do NOT choose the top ideas by which is most popular, but instead, choose the idea that represents the best solution to the customer’s problem (Step 2) and meets your business objective (Step 1). When you believe you have a suitable solution, move to Step 4.

Step 4: Test & Learn to Validate the proposed solution

In this step, you test the idea to check if it will solve the customer’s problem (Step 2) and achieve the business objective (Step 1). This step allows you to learn through a range of techniques (prototypes, pilots, or Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)). Based on the results of testing, you will most likely need to iterate or pivot so that you discover the best solution for the customer (Step 2) that meets your business objective (step 1). Once you have validated your proposed solution, move to Step 5.

Step 5: Implement the proposed solution

Now that you have a validated solution, it is time to create and execute a plan that will move the idea from a concept to reality. This involves project management tools that you most likely already have embedded in your organisation.

This is the 5-Step Innovation Process.

This is the process that I can train and coach your team in as they apply this methodology to achieve real business outcomes.

Need help with innovating? Contact us.

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