A colleague recently asked me an interesting question: If you only had a few minutes to get the CEO’s attention about innovation, what would you say? This is the ultimate condensed message, and it must be made for each individual organization.
After reflecting a bit on the question, my main thought would be to say that innovation itself is about creating something new that generates economic value. That said, innovation can be about more than the product or service definition alone and is a key driver to achieve the company’s business strategy.
Secondly, to create something new we need to start by finding opportunities which are discovered through a process that can be used to farm customer motivators. The discovery process needs to go across the company with any eye turned outside the organization to find new ways to provide new things for customers to benefit from.
Next, that the objective of an innovation process is not to have an uber-team that is charged with coming up with all the next-generation ideas, but is to enable the entire company to create new value. This process needs to be continual in order to keep building on the findings to create stronger customer offerings over time.
The purpose of an innovation process is to know more about your customers every day. It isn’t enough to just follow the relevant trends, but to notice the changes in the trends. That leads to opportunity discovery.
Finally, it is a lot of hard work. It is not just idea generation but is a focused, systematic effort to develop new insights about customers and find new ways to meet customer motivations. Using a set of structured tools, methods and approaches will help to identify, categorize and prioritize new business concepts that can be evaluated for investment potential. Investments will ultimately have better returns if they are grounded in delivering real value to your chosen set of customers and markets.
What could be more simple than that?
Roy Luebke is an innovation expert focused on discovering new, customer-driven opportunity areas to help define the future of a company. He is inspired by knowledge and learning, and applying structured tools and methods at the crossroads of strategy and innovation to achieve business growth.