Another reason for poor performance on the innovation trail is a lack of structure, process and follow-up. Before long these activities and actors will pump out scores of ideas.

To sort, consolidate and channel them through the innovation stage gate process the entire endeavor needs a vision by the owners and their absolute commitment both physically and communicatively.

Without management to walk the talk and being very vocal about the purpose, goals and impact, any effort is ill spent: Is management looking for product ideas, new ways to service a customer segment, do they want to offer new production platforms or create or adjust to new technologies?

Also the roles and benefits for all actors should be visible. In a B2B environment for example customers don’t only represent the next value chain element and can educate everyone else about their perceived gaps and needs but they would also learn from the other parties including and specifically from the end users of their products.

In addition to their own customer centricity efforts they might engage in different ways and appreciate the exposure and learning curve. In turn this could support their buy-in to the various ideation formats and activities.

Here as well, different behavior, enabled through the new way of collaborative ideation methods should be guided and nurtured. This is why HR or external personnel coaches might be a valid addition to some of the formats.

The various unsatisfied needs should be orchestrated to feed into the innovation process that should include these or similar stages and decision gates:

  • Scoping
  • Validation
  • Qualification
  • Portfolio management
  • Process administration and management
  • Resource allocation and management
  • Financial planning
  • Project planning and management
  • Road-mapping for product and platform fit

An attractive and engaging reward program can go a long way here as well. Trade shows and industry conventions or even independent industry or science review boards could boost acceptance and motivation in addition to specific marketing campaigns and collateral as discussion basis for the sales force.

 

The proof of the pudding - even if eaten much later

In Being Digital (the 1995 non-fiction bestseller about digital technologies and their possible future) Nicholas Negroponte, the technology author plus founder and chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab even went one or several steps further.

He projected the maximum value and desired goals of electronic communication to match human interaction: our future electronic communication habits will look and feel entirely human again. 

Totally ignorant of current state of technology his vision included materials, devices and software that wasn’t even discussed yet. His (or like-minded) ideas were followed by the likes of Apple and Google however and it seems that we are midway through his visionary book today, 20 years later.

Many of his visions sounded like science fiction and too good to be true ‘dreamy stuff’. But that is exactly the stuff dreams and a ridiculous amount of money and impact are made of:

As of this writing in October 2015, Apple’s and Google’s combined worth was one trillion US dollars, according to market capitalization (the price of a share in a company's stock multiplied by the number of shares outstanding).

And it changed the entire civilization and the way we interact, research, share and invent new ‘dreamy stuff’. And thanks to those technologies and options everyone can participate.

 

A braver, more fun way to generate ideas and new markets

Although we are no visionary bestseller authors or paid inventors, we all can still tap into unchartered territory and connect the dots between end use needs, current gaps, technology enablers and emotions.

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