Is your Idea pipeline being filled and maintained?
by Robert F. Brands
If even 1% of new ideas succeed, it can lead to a huge payoff. A steady stream of ideas is what fuels Innovation, so one of Robert’s Rules of Innovation imperatives is Ideation, or the idea management processes .
On any new product development team, it is up to the leader to facilitate ideation sessions that produce a regular supply of new ideas. In order for these ideation sessions to be as effective as possible, it’s valuable to include members such as the sales team, people who interact directly with customers, and maybe even a few select customers themselves to offer their insight into the meeting.
In these brainstorming sessions, which should be held regularly like two to three times a year, it’s ideal to include a diverse group of people – perhaps from customer service, engineering or production – to create a setting ripe for creative ideas and to avoid group-think. The process should be a structured repeatable process. All ideas should be written up on the whiteboard or flip chart, then recorded and stored for future reference, with absolutely no ideas dubbed as bad. Negativity causes fear of judgment, which can seriously hurt the Ideation process and any chance of new and original ideas. Remember, good ideas can come from anywhere, so the more diverse your team and the more removed they are from their usual environments, the better for developing ideas essential to Innovation.
Ideation and the management of the ideation process pack the front end of the New Product Development funnel with a wealth of viable concepts. This portfolio approach anticipates the fact that some concepts will pan out, while others are dropped. Here are some tips on ideation:
- Focus, focus, focus. Remember that depth is better than breadth for quality idea generation. Drill down and maintain focus.
- Prioritize ideas. And keep your eye on areas that enhance perceived value, improve customer relations, and capitalize on competitive opportunities.
- Store best practices. And be sure to reference them regularly. Remember, also, to create a database of ideation session “discards” – used in combination with other concepts from the group’s “toy box,” there might be the makings of a winner.
Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival”, with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).