Last year, IdeaScale launched a webinar series that covered the repeatable innovation process (from problem identification to implementation). In the “How to Pick the Right Problems to Solve” webinar we discussed that before an innovator or innovation manager can begin solving problems, they have to look at all the available research and information in order to drive their understanding of the issue so that you can find an actionable solution that actually solves the problem. That could be feedback that you’ve already gathered, research on a subject, workshop discussions, and more.
This also means that organizations need to be trend tracking so that they can always include these signals as part of their initial review of existing information that informs their solution seeking. For example, if someone in the energy sector was working to repair inefficiencies in their thermostat and didn’t take into account the growing trend of the Internet of Things (IoT), they could miss a major opportunity to not only solve that problem in a new way, but lose this critical chance to keep pace with (or blow past) the competition. If all you do is solve the problem in the same way you always have, you’re probably not innovating very often.
In order to constantly be building a repository of information, you can also ask for customers and employees to be adding to your trend tracking. They can submit trends or technology that they’ve observed anywhere (even in other industries) and others can use that as a touchpoint for learning. IdeaScale also supports idea linking so that administrators and moderators can group ideas according to themes or trends as they emerge. In fact, in this way, your crowd might signal trends that they didn’t even know were critical to the future of a product, process, or policy just by telling you other ideas that are on their mind.
Once you have a sense of the emerging trends that are out there, it’s important to hold them up against the problem that you’re trying to solve and see if there might be places that you could include those trends in your new solution – if there’s a space, then you might not just solve a problem, but you might find an entirely new transformative idea that will keep you relevant for years to come.