Innovation is at the heart of companies’ economic policy. Often technologic, it exists also in the creation of services, the design of new business models, addressing new channels of distribution, or through the installation of partnerships.
It is a guarantee of differentiation, but also a survival necessity in dynamic markets. Taking into account the innovation is essential but risky.
So, how to take the right risks?
Product Managers propose an approach for the implementation of a winning innovation process in 5 steps:
- Identify topics of innovation
- Organize the contributions
- Generate opportunity files
- Conduct the innovation activity
- Decide on the continuation of a subject
Give the freedom to create, to differentiate, but not at any price.
Step # 1 – Identify the subjects of innovation
Allowing time for innovation is not easy when the company focuses on sales and crystallizes its efforts on projects with known business potential! While not all ideas can succeed, give free rein to your imagination; invent new habits; enter worlds related to your sector; build scenarios by imagining new needs.
Ideas feed other ideas and create a momentum for innovative projects that will emerge!
The innovation topics are rooted in:
- informal discussions outside the constraints of projects
- discussions with customers (importance of feedback from the field)
- technological developments that generate others
- reflection on the uses
- Competitive Intelligence
- the ability of some to « feel » trends
- the creative profile of employees that is imperative to cultivate
On this basis, create a database of ideas. The latter, organized by themes, grows constantly, since the process works.
Step # 2 – Organize contributions
Organize innovation, to make it real:
- Appoint a responsible of innovation
- Define consistent and useful criteria for the company to prioritize potential business ideas eg, potential reputation, competitive advantage, technical feasibility, maturity
- Put in place human resources (knowledge management, contributors definition …). Depending on the culture and industry of each enterprise, innovation can be organized with profiles recruited for this purpose or function in rotation with project teams, or time shared between projects and innovation.
Step # 3 – Generate opportunity files
Address issues of innovation as conventional projects and apply the same methodology is the best way to create a dynamic business innovation. The upstream phase, investigation and definition of the offer, takes advantage of a structured approach and can lead to a review of the decision, called « opportunity review « . For each topic of innovation all aspects of an offer is considered: functional, technical, business.
The opportunity files are adapted to innovation:
- Market addressed
- Positioning / competition
- Technical feasibility
- Development capacity, including potential partnerships
- Investments needed
The decision to continue the investigation is then made knowingly, with a visibility in terms of income, prospects, opportunities and risks.
Step # 4 – Facilitate innovation activity
Appoint a steering committee to lead the activity.
Its mission is to challenge potential contributors on a topic and generate a synthetic and objective vision (maturity, potential, etc.).
It is composed of various enterprise employees – commercial, project procurement, manufacturing, marketing and potential users – to ensure a complete picture.
The steering committee summarizes all the topics in a roadmap of potential innovation which is a tool to formalize a vision of trends.
At this stage, the investment is limited to contributions and possible prototyping. And the company has decision tools.
All the success of this process lies in the echo that the work will find in innovation policy makers. Hence the importance for the responsible innovation to find allies that will ensure the « evangelization. »
Step # 5 – Decide on the pursuit of a project
To go further on a subject, put in place a review decision.
The goal is to objectively inform the management team of the opportunity to invest by presenting a synthetized folder to make an informed decision (Investments, Benefits, Risks, Potential).
Set who will be the decision makers of this review (decision matrix) and what will be the ad ‘hoc indicators (budget, resources, maturity, time, risk) to place the subject in the overall context of the business (project roadmap, product roadmap, investments …) .
The conclusion of the review constitutes a Go-No Go on the project.
Implementation of an organized innovation process is a substantive work.
This approach is a powerful catalyst for business when it is part of the natural functioning of the company.
Marielle Crozat – MOKA CONSULT – partenaire de Product Managers