Corporate innovation appears to be the new name of the business game. However, some companies are struggling to implement product development mechanism in the business. Some claim that there is no shortage of ideas, but all the while very few ideas make it to market at all.
Companies like Amazon, Google and Volkswagen are using the following tactics to drive innovation. In this deep dive into the world of corporate innovation management, we will deconstruct the best ways to get from idea to prototype and why they work.
The masterminds behind some of the best innovations are either the customers or the employees. To make things even more convenient, the two groups constantly interact. The missing link between the abundance of ideas and actual innovation is the fact they are rarely shared. And the best way to counteract this is the use of an idea board.
The concept is very simple: A board, window or wall can serve as the frame for a posted note collection where employees write new ideas they come up with or hear from customers. Once a month all the ideas can be collected and discussed, and ultimately the best ideas can be tested and brought to life.
Another great way to come up with amazing ideas within a time constraint is to awaken the competitive spirit in the employees. Not only do they love the challenge, but this is a great way to sort out the best from the rest. Another great result is going from idea to prototype in a very short period of time.
Some companies also combine the power of the crowd with gamification, using consumer-driven innovation through organising competitions for the consumers, and rewarding the winning solutions.
Design Thinking brings corporate innovation
The methodology includes aspects of both previous points and is driven by empathy and teamwork. This method is especially useful because it guides the employees through the whole innovation process. In 5 specific steps, which are: empathise, ideate, prototype, test and iterate, the members of the team very efficiently go from idea to prototype.
Some of the biggest companies in the world are using Design Thinking in daily tasks, and have reported significant increases in productivity and employee satisfaction.
Product developers need to familiarize themselves with the consumer and put themselves in their shoes. This is a necessary step but still can lead to errors simply because the consumers really have a mind of their own. Once the prototype is developed it is imperative that it gets tested with a pool of potential consumers.
It is a great way to diminish the risk of going to market. Also, it may lead to a discovery of new ways in which the product can be used, or even marketed.
A major reason why sometimes ideas don’t make it to market, even the ones that were fully developed, are last-minute hesitations. It is often the case that top or middle management serves as the biggest roadblocks to launch.
Sometimes this prolongs the process enough that competitors come out with a version of the same product before you do. This is why all ideas should be discussed in detail from the beginning, and that all remarks are shared early on.
Culture and structure of corporate innovation
Something that is not talked about enough is the effects that corporate structure and systems have on the employees. In order to ideate or develop products efficiently, the employees need to be in an environment that encourages that type of thinking. Ultimately, it all starts from the top, and this is why choosing the right managers is imperative.
The idea of an authoritarian leader is obsolete – nowadays managers need to be good listeners and focus on making it easier for their employees to get their job done. Also, less hierarchical and more team-based structures that allow co-creation and boost communication have been a tied and proven mechanism for success in innovation.
If implemented in the right way, corporate innovation management produces unbelievable results. Incorporating the above-mentioned tactics is going to reduce friction and make the innovation process a lot more effective and efficient. Now you too can grow your business through innovation easily and achieve great success.