Resting is for retirement. As long as you’re in business, you need to be on top of your game, and innovation is a big part of getting to the front of the pack (and staying there). Having a separate innovation department is a relatively new concept, and it’s one that’s quickly gaining momentum in the corporate world. Every big company always has a lot going on. For this reason, Sometimes you can push innovation to the bottom of your task list. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done. It’s not a simple task. It’s a full-time job. The innovation lifecycle is a process. You must filter every idea to implement it. If you don’t keep constant watch, some of your best ideas may languish. Another company may be working on the same idea and beat you to market with it.
How can you avoid such a scenario? Enter the innovation lifecycle.
The Innovation Lifecycle
The first stage of the innovation adoption lifecycle is brainstorming. Here, you’ll assemble a team of people who can generate as many ideas as possible. From there, source, create, evaluate, and filter the best ideas to meet your company’s vision.
Some companies preface this step with another step in which they identify problems to solve. Or opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed. While this can be helpful in some fields, at other times, the problems are already well understood.
Regardless of when you spot these problems, a brainstorming session is typically unstructured, unrestrained, and where the seeds of ideas first appear. It’s where it all starts, where all the great ideas originate. It’s also where a lot of bad ideas originate, so the next step in the innovation lifecycle is critical.
Funding is inextricably tied to the innovation lifecycle.
Innovation Lifecycle Management: Assess, Select, Move Forward
This is a particularly difficult part of the process. One reason for this is that it’s almost impossible to give blanket advice on how to approach this step. After all, each idea has its own merits and failings. No one can tell you which ideas will succeed in the long run.
There are some basic rules to follow, however, including:
Ideas that sound great may create a sense of urgency in you that causes you to make hasty — and even foolish — decisions. Most ideas don’t pan out as expected or end up costing more than originally anticipated. To avoid running into this problem, lay some ground rules about going over budget. For example, institute a waiting period before committing to fund an expensive project, and allow yourself to go only a certain percentage over the budget. This will stop you from making many big, costly mistakes.
Evaluate and prioritize the ideas
You may feel that any idea with a germ of possibility is worth exploring. However, you’ll waste time and money this way. You may also feel that rejecting some possibly good ideas will result in hurt feelings and morale issues among the staff. But, allowing feelings to enter the equation is a mistake. The core principle of good idea selection is selecting the winning ideas using evidence-based decision-making. It all comes down to which ideas best align with your company’s strategy.
Outline some parameters for abandoning the idea
Everyone is familiar with throwing good money after bad. Sometimes you get your heart set on something and it will not work. You think that trying harder is the solution when in actuality, giving up is the right thing to do. It’s hard to decide when you’re already involved and invested. So decide ahead of time at what point you will cut your losses.
Begin Development and Testing
Once you’ve chosen which ideas are worth pursuing, develop a budget and a timeline for each.
This step is crucial as well since, with some ideas, it can be hard to say with certainty when they are complete. After all, we could always work a little longer, a little harder, and do a little more. This is a vicious cycle in which we can get trapped. You need to set goals and limits early on. You don’t have all the time in the world. The next great idea is waiting for funding, and some of the funding should come from the great idea your team is working on now.
Although you can break these steps down into a hundred smaller steps, the innovation lifecycle is essentially for three main parts—start, keep going, and finish. As simple as that sounds, you know that it isn’t, because a million problems get in the way.
Your job as an innovation leader is to not allow problems to disrupt the process. Find a way to get around them, over them, under them, or through them. The teams that keep working through the innovation lifecycle are the ones that will get more products to market, more recognition, and more profits.
For more information about the innovation life cycle and other innovation strategies, request a demo.