Innovation is a saturated field, but one with a hole in it. Many companies can generate thousands of potentially valuable ideas, but have no acceptable cultural method for placing a value on them.
Many of these same companies can do Wicked Thinking, block out Business Model Canvases, and follow a Design Thinking Sprint, but they lack credible and concrete thinking about the financial side of their innovation concepts as the front-end process is progressing.
Too many in the innovation field do not translate their findings into their company’s existing vernacular. As a result, they don’t get buy-in from the people who take them to market and they wither on the vine.
Good marketers and product managers speak the language of money. Therefore, even if you’ve followed a strict human-centric method of innovation, speaking about the end-game will help socialize the efforts.
Invite the business side of the house into the project cycle earlier to gain their buy-in. By looking at each major step in the process through a financial lens, you will win their trust. Here are a few methods.
After you have completed the Empathy and Define stages, invite them into a Business Model exercise, so they get a sense of the pragmatism of the process. To boot, they also earn a real sense of the problem for which you are solving.
After the Ideation phase is complete and you present the concepts, add some thinking about how the concept will be monetized and why it is important for the brand.
During co-creation present each concept with features, benefits, and also test pricing.
As the Front End process is wrapping up, present each vetted product or service concept with a one-page draft business case and suggested go-to-market brief.
Adding these Back End elements to the Front End process creates a bridge between the Innovation and Business Team. By applying these simple tactics to the process, more innovations actually make it to market.
image credit: Tracy O
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Michael Graber is the cofounder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis.