Creating a repeatable innovation portfolio helps you plan more efficiently, scale resources, and gain insight for the growth of your innovation program. There are five key elements of a repeatable innovation portfolio:
- Opportunity Identification and Campaign Creation
- Idea Collection and Inspiration
- Proposal Generation
- Performance Tracking
When these components are in place, your innovation process becomes predictable and encourages participation across the spectrum.
Opportunity Identification and Campaign Creation
Innovation and problems go hand and hand because problems are the source of which opportunities to implement new ideas are born and iterated upon.
Train your staff to recognize that problems that they hear from other employees, customers, leads, and prospects are always opportunities for innovation. Better yet, have them go out into the field to see first-hand what the users, purchasers, and influencers of your product or service do with it. What problems does each group encounter with your product? Are your competitors focusing too much on one group, giving you an opportunity to capitalize on another? These questions will show you opportunities for innovation.
Once you’ve identified your innovation focus, create a campaign. By implementing specific stages for each innovation project, you’ll be able to lay out a clear path from problem to solution. As you sift through the crowdsourcing, internal ideas, and feedback data, consider that although feedback is individual, some of the ideas might build upon each other or be related in some way. These pairings might help you build steps in your campaign or help you plan for risks.
Idea Collection and Inspiration
It’s said, “No man is an island,” and no organization or innovation project is an island either. You should look for ideas and inspiration in as many places as possible.
Crowdsourcing is a great way to gain ideas for your innovation project. By crowdsourcing, you can draw on the experience of people in different areas of the country, different parts of the world, and different industries in business. You can choose who to invite into your idea collection process, from employees to customers to the general public. By running contests and offering incentives, you can get the best and the brightest to contribute to your project.
Don’t stop collecting ideas just because you don’t have an active innovation project, though. Having new ideas about how to do things can bring breakthrough ideas in other areas. Become an active idea collector at all times!
Once you have identified your problem and collected ideas, it’s time to narrow down your options and create a specific proposal.
You can have an internal innovation project team tasked with evaluating the feasibility of the best ideas. You can also assign idea champions to a select few of the concepts, and create incentives for them to come up with the best possible proposals.
Proposals will need to be reviewed by key stakeholders from every department. Don’t leave anyone out. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great innovation project slashed because one department or leader feels slighted or doesn’t have enough information to make a decision.
Unfortunately, implementation can be the biggest hurdle for any innovation project. An organization that can execute the ideas it creates has a tremendous advantage over other companies.
Here are a few hurdles that can derail implementation:
- Budget: Make sure that the leadership team is committed to a budget not just for initial launch, but for ongoing maintenance of the new process. You may need to select fewer innovation projects each year as a result, but it’s worth it to get them implemented!
- Buy-in: Identify key stakeholders in your organization that need to be persuaded that the new idea is impactful. Also, identify influencers in your organization who can help employees adopt and embrace the new process.
- Overload: Don’t try to change too many things at once. People can only adapt to so much change. You may need to space out projects or focus on different areas of the company each time.
If you can overcome these issues, you can skyrocket past your competitors. It’s not how many ideas you have; it’s what you do with them!
Performance tracking is essential not only to evaluate and tweak your current idea, but it also serves as proof of progress to leadership and stakeholders. A highly successful innovation project is likely to increase the support and funding available for your next effort.
By tracking the performance of your new idea, you can show the return on investment that the company realized from the innovation. Not only is this helpful for maintaining current funding, but it’s also a great way to motivate employees and increase buy-in for this new process and future ideas.
Many innovation project managers believe that successful innovation is a lot like catching lightning in a bottle – unpredictable, hard to plan, and not repeatable. Fortunately, that isn’t true. When you create an innovation process that you follow on a regular basis, you can plan for and predict when your useful innovation projects will happen.
To use these five components to create a repeatable innovation portfolio, you’ll need the right systems in place to support you. IdeaScale has comprehensive innovation planning and implementation tools that can set you on the right track and keep you going. We’d love to help you create a repeatable process going forward.
To learn more about creating a repeatable innovation portfolio, watch the Open Nation: Trends in Innovation Management presentation and download the slide deck here.