Getting Innovation Right the First Time

A hot topic in business today is “innovation,” and as a result, we have an endless supply of commentary on the concept, need for, and “how-to’s” of innovation.The consistent flaw I find with much of what is out there today is that they either tell you what you already know – “in order to be successful in the 21st century you need to be innovative,” or they attempt to give a step-by-step process for fostering innovation in your organization that often amounts to little more than structured brainstorming, such as: 

Step 1: Ask your team for ideas

Step 2: Pick the best ideas

Step 3: Create a business plan…..

I think you get the idea.

In order for leaders and organizations to truly be innovative, they must first have a framework for exploring multiple future possibilities, equipping them to anticipate emerging market needs. l’ve created a simple process to help leaders establish this framework for themselves and their teams. I call this process “I.C.C.E.,” which stands for:

Identify. Create. Challenge. Explore.

This process in action might look something like this:

1) Identify an existing trend, issue, or actual event where the full implications are not yet known.

For example: Let’s imagine that one of our target audience groups is the entertainment industry, and the trend we’re concerned with is the growing market in autonomous technology (artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, etc.).

2) Create the framework for generating ideas by formulating a critical question that your team will work together to resolve.

“How will the recent growth in autonomous technologies impact future growth for the entertainment industry?”

3) Challenge the baseline assumptions that have been made about this issue.

Begin by asking, “What do the majority of my colleagues and industry experts have to say about this?”Once you’ve established the baseline assumption, it’s important for you and your team to search for new information that either confirms or contradicts the baseline assumptions or creates a new assumption altogether.

4) Explore the possible implications this new information could have on the future growth and success of your clients and target audience groups.

It’s at this stage that you will have the foundation for generating relevant high-quality ideas and concepts that anticipate the needs of your target audience groups before they arise.

The Fulcrum: In order to truly be innovative it’s important to evaluate your process for anticipating issues and obstacles that affect the future success of your clients and customers. 

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Check out my podcast series called The Futurist on iTunes.

If you’d like to reach me by email: [email protected]

or call my direct line: 828-367-0290

© J.P Nichols & Associates Inc. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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