Innovation Spade Work

Preparation for innovation is the most critical step in the process. This is where the brand’s issues direct where innovation can help the business. Get this wrong an you are innovating for the sake of it. All innovation must attempt to address a current or future issue facing the brand.

At Invitro we find it useful to peer into your Innovation Future through 4 Lenses. These 4 areas encompass the critical “Spade Work” before Innovation can occur.

  1. The Future Lens             – The changing Macro environment and implications for the future.
  2. The Competitive Lens     – Who are the real competition, are they direct or indirect competitors?
  3. The Brand Lens – Key Company or Brand Strengths to exploit and Weaknesses to overcome.
  4. The Human Lens            – What is the Consumer relationship with the brand or category? What are key shifts in consumer lifestyles?

 The 4 Lenses will help identify key areas of opportunity or concern where the brand needs to focus its effort and where STRATEGIC INNOVATION is required.

If you are not certain what the strategic priorities are for your business then you can always explore innovation possibilities by doing some spade work within the 4 territories of:

–          Customers

–          Products and Services

–          Marketing

–          Company practices

Even if you are not concerned with strategic innovation, the need still exists to frame challenges for productive idea generation. Innovation challenges at any organizational level should be relatively open-ended and target an explicit objective such as increasing demand for a product or brand.

A common way to state challenges is to start with the phrase, “How might we…?” This provides a prompt for open-ended idea generation.

Within the realm of Customers we could prompt innovation by asking:

  1. How might we acquire new customers?
  2. How might we improve customer access to our products?
  3. How might we make it easier to choose a product in our category?
  4. How might we involve customers in product development?
  5. How might we better understand customer needs?

 Within the realm of Products and Services we could prompt innovation by asking:

  1. How might we make our category more interesting for customers
  2. How might we make our products easier to use?
  3. How might we improve the experience component of our product?
  4. How might we simplify the consumption experience?
  5. How might we improve the value of the offer?

Within the realm of Marketing we could prompt innovation by asking:

  1. How might we encourage customers to talk about their product experience with others?
  2. How might we create interest for our brand?
  3. How might we acquire more customers at point of sale?
  4. How might we improve the reputation of the brand?
  5. How might we expand into new markets?

 Within the realm of Company Practices we could prompt innovation by asking:

  1. How might we improve our new product success rate?
  2. How might we reduce the development time of new products?
  3. How might we increase internal commitment to new products?
  4. How might we identify new trends and opportunities for the business?
  5. How might we improve internal communication channels?

All this “spade work” may sound labourious, and it is, but there is no short cut to establishing a solid Innovation Foundation from which teams can then ideate. You may not use all the opportunities this foundation work illuminates and may well put it away for a later round of new idea seeking.

One response to “Innovation Spade Work

  1. Great post…I just found your blog through LinkedIn and will be reading more. You’ve got some ideas I’m sure my company and clients can use re: innovation. Plus, I love your title!

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