How To Get Concrete With Innovation

A strong innovation strategy requires input from your entire team.

“I just can’t see it.” Often, with innovation, these can be the five most frustrating words when explaining an idea. The simple truth is that every one of us has a unique approach to understanding ideas: Some of us can create an image, wholly in our minds, right down to the details, while others have to write it out and still others need to see it in reality. So how can we create concrete innovation?

Start Big, And Drill Down

To begin with, any innovation should be presented with as global a view as possible. For example, if you’re coming up with a new feature for an app, you’d explain, in the broad strokes, what the feature you want to add would do. Think in terms of audience; how would you explain it to somebody who doesn’t work with your product or in your field every day? From there, start zooming in, explaining, say, how it would work, or why it would be a useful feature. If somebody asks for relevant data, see what you can find to back it up.

Use Metaphors

Another useful tool to make an innovation concrete is to tie it to something we use every day. Anybody who’s used a computer will notice that icons for the very abstract, mathematical processes that happen in a PC have real world analogues. If you open a file on a computer, you’ll see a file folder that opens, for example. Being able to tie an idea to these concrete, everyday examples will help bridge these gaps. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a perfect metaphor, just one that communicates the overall idea. And if you know your coworkers well enough, you can tie it to their personal interests or the work that they do to add clarity.

Innovation starts with one person, and spreads to the rest of us.

Put It On Paper

The best way to make an innovation concrete quickly is to start drawing or writing it out. Whiteboards are the classic way of laying out how an innovation works, but don’t neglect other tools around the office like collaborative editing documents, 3D visualization tools, and other items you have to depict an idea. Especially when working out the nitty-gritty details of an idea, having these handy both opens the door to further innovation and brings out the creativity of your team to solve challenges and fix issues before they become problems.

Build It

Another way to fully communicate an idea is, of course, to build it. It doesn’t have to be a fully working, complex model, but especially when you’re making something abstract tangible, breaking out the Legos, or Arduino and servo motors, can help people better grasp just what you want to do. It can even help your team refine their ideas, as building the model can highlight new places to take the idea, or even reconstruct it entirely.

Innovation, in the long run, needs to be more than just an abstract theory. Bringing it into the real world will help your team create, overcome challenges, and figure out solutions to complex issues more easily and intelligently. For a full overview of how an innovation strategy builds your business, join the IdeaScale community.

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