Innovating The Innovation Process

by , Apr 20, 2011, 8:30 AM
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From inception to launch, bringing a product to market has always been a risky and costly venture. However, today the stakes are dramatically higher. The ever-changing marketplace paradigms dictate that firms must innovate faster and more successfully to not only grow but remain relevant.

As a result, marketers must identify and develop the best ideas right from the start. But despite the revolutionary inroads made with social tools, open innovation and the like, marketers are still subjugated to the conventional, tried and true down-stream innovation process, which constrains the potential of their innovations.

Why? Despite all the fact-finding, research, and creativity available today to expand the potential of an idea, concept evaluation ultimately defines the throughput of innovation. This is true across product, advertising, and package development. Conventional methods evaluate one concept at a time and therefore force marketers to restrict the number and diversity of concepts they test. This part of the process is inherently deficient which most often results in languishing timelines or satisficing decisions. More critically, it leaves many good and potentially blockbuster ideas unexplored.

So what should marketers do? Innovate the innovation process itself.

Bottom line, a new innovation process should:

  • Connect the ideas generated in the ideation phase directly to consumers in such a way that all possible concepts are evaluated. This must be done in a manner different from focus groups and similar techniques in order to be exhaustive, reliable, fast, and accurate.
  • Evaluation must better reflect today's market, not the 1980's when markets boomed. Testing must benchmark concepts against competition to more accurately reflect in-market performance. Testing should even consider potential competitive response.

The picture I painted above is actually possible today. By innovating the innovation process, brand managers, creatives, and designers can realize innovation in themselves and in the market. By connecting ideation with concept evaluation and testing real-world scenarios, the results are sure to be higher success rates, bigger businesses, and faster time-to-market. All the reasons why we love innovation.

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