Creating new ideas is easy – generating opportunities that have a high probability of creating value is tough
‘Ideation’ as a term has been adopted to refer to the initial stags of forming a new idea, prior to detailed analysis and selection. It is an important stage, perhaps the most important, since it determines the quality of opportunities that enter the top of the innovation ‘funnel’, and therefore drives the quality of the overall innovation cycle. The objective of Ideation is to generate well founded opportunities that have a good prospect of creating value in the end-market, and which match an organisation's strengths and strategy.
Well founded ideation involves creative synthesis across a wide range of inputs:
- Broad scanning and general strategic awareness, understanding of foreseeable trends and awareness of potential disruptive shifts.
- Deep experience in the market domain, usually this means direct interaction with front-line operators and end-users
- Engagement of deep expertise in relevant science and technologies
- Understanding of potential business models
Marshalling these inputs is not trivial, and a typical ideation process will combine creation of ideas, eg through brainstorming, with detailed follow-up to flesh out issues. A formalized role of ideation champion is a suitable way to lead development of individual ideation items.
See A typical Ideation Process for an example implementation.
Innovation Governance Checklist
An Innovation Governance regime should address the following questions of an organisation’s approach to ideation:
- Is there a systematic activity that reviews eg that affect the organisations market, supply base, competitors and regulatory context?
- Is there an established framework for bringing creative people together from different organisation functions (research, sales, delivery, marketing) able to brainstorm issues and ideas with constructive challenge, and a formal means to nominate ideation champions?
- Is there a formal community of senior leaders that span that business elements who can oversee ideation activity and form a lateral network to bring people inside (and outside) the organisation together?
- Can ideation champions get rapid, modest funding and management support to test and explore key aspects, enabling a sound business case to worked up (or disproved) before commitment of significant resource?
- Are ideation champions given special access to wider expertise in the organisation’s leadership cadre, providing advice, critical support and coaching?
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