Innovation Academy Week 3 – Refine Ideas to a Robust Proposal

Innovation Academy Week 3 – Refine Idea to a Robust ProposalWelcome to week three! You’re well on your way to having an effective innovation team. This week, we’ll discuss how to turn the best new ideas into robust proposals that include the necessary components required by your stakeholders.

Refining the Idea

As you move through your innovation process, you’ll be forwarding the most promising new ideas to your innovation project team. There, they will be evaluated and put into a functional form. Within the team, you can then choose the very best ideas and create full, robust proposals for your leadership team to evaluate.

Once you move into the Refine stage, access to project ideas is limited based on role. Only team members can have input on the idea at this stage, and priority is given to team members with experience in the area that the solution addresses. However, even at this stage, you want to make sure you are giving regular updates to your stakeholders and leadership.

You may have a wider group of people who are permitted to view the top ideas and implementation status. If you have a platform with an “idea detail page” or similar area that can allow for viewing but not editing, that’s a great way to keep your stakeholders and leaders up to date without having to send dozens of emails.

You want to ensure transparency while restricting access. Editing should be granted to the innovation team only. Letting your employees, stakeholders, and other participants know how things are going is important, but they don’t need all of the details.

Forming Proposals With the COSTAR Model 

Having a robust proposal means making sure that all key elements are addressed. You don’t want to be put in a situation where you don’t know the answers to common questions. You also don’t want your leadership team asking for data that you forgot to provide. Instead, use the COSTAR model to create a comprehensive proposal.The Enterprise Development Group is the creator of the COSTAR model.

  • C: Customer. The goal of the first step is to define who the target customer is and the unmet needs they have. Clearly defining the customer will help you articulate the need and prove the value of the idea.
  • O: Opportunity. In this step, you’re sharing how this solution provides value for your organization as well as the customer. You may also articulate how the solution is far-reaching and involves more than solving one problem for one group. Maybe it provides a platform that can be used for other customers or a new idea that reduces the cost of manufacturing a widget.
  • S: Solution. In this step, clearly define the solution that you are presenting. Make sure you anticipate questions, including how quickly the solution will be implemented, resources needed and risk mitigation strategies.
  • T: Team. The goal of this step is to clearly define who you need at various stages. Having this clearly explained in the proposal will help ensure approval for staff and funding as implementation continues.
  • A: Advantage. In this step, consider what competitive advantage is created by this new idea. What would it allow you to offer that no one else is offering? Knowing this will help you present your idea as a way to gain ground over competitors.
  • R: Results. Finally, it’s important to be very clear on the results that will come from implementing your idea. You’ll want to describe the results in both qualitative and quantitative ways. What will the return on investment be? How will you measure the new process and determine whether it succeeds or fails?

Using the COSTAR model, along with an executive summary, conclusion, relevant charts, and data, will help you create a robust proposal that covers all the bases. You’ll be able to go into the approval phase knowing that you thought through the possibilities and can confidently answer any questions that are presented.

Once your proposal is approved, it’s time for implementation. Next week will be the last installment of the Innovation Academy, where we’ll discuss how you assess and implement the new idea. If you’re receiving value from this academy, please share the Innovation Academy workbook with a friend. In the meantime, take a look at our Crowdsourcing Best Practices guide for more information about implementing your winning idea!

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