Key Takeaways from Recent Q&A Panel on the Front End of Innovation

Posted by Kristen Fotter at 8:50 AM, May 10, 2013

Recently, Brightidea engaged in a live Q&A session with Planview and Innovation SE on igniting and powering prioritization in innovation programs. As one of the lead speakers during the session, it was personally both exhilarating and fulfilling. I was extremely impressed with the diversity of the audience and their questions. Clearly, organizations of all sorts are thinking about how to incorporate innovation into their day-to-day and how to maximize the effectiveness of the process.

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Of the 150 questions submitted during the session, most of the feedback led me to a fundamental point that we convey to everyone we work with, which is that innovation is a full end-to-end process that should lead to demonstrable results. Innovating and ideating without purpose won’t get you anywhere. The only results you’ll see are a group of frustrated participants and leadership knocking on your door asking why you wasted their most precious resources on a fruitless venture. For innovation to truly impact your business in a meaningful way, you must develop and maintain an end-to-end process that begins with strategic alignment and ends with implementation.

While developing a program process, everyone is faced with identifying which ideas are the most worthy of implementation. We took a poll during the live Q&A session about how comfortable the audience is with prioritizing ideas. Based on the poll results, it appears that many people struggle with establishing a documented process that utilizes metrics to identify which ideas have the most merit (30% of people go on gut alone). Why is it that so many people struggle with innovation process?

While many people believe that process and structure stifle creativity – critical to producing those big “Wow” ideas – this couldn’t be further from the truth. A solid process ensures that the venture will be meaningful to the business by generating outcomes and creating ROI.

At Brightidea, we believe that two elements are key to successful prioritization:

  1. Establish your success criteria before starting a project.
  2. Use an accessible tool that allows subject matter experts to produce a quantifiable assessment. We find that our multi-round scorecarding feature is really helpful to clients for this purpose.

Additionally, there are two questions you must access yourself before engaging in the endeavor. This first piece is critical. You must ask the question, is this pursuit in line with the strategic objectives of the company? Secondly you must ask, is there funding to implement the outcome of this process? If the answer to either of those questions is no, do not pass Go. You should start over with a new topic. Once the strategic foundation is laid, then you can go crazy with getting the smelly markers, post-it notes, squishy toys, and beanbag chairs for creativity sessions.

With a foundation of strategic alignment and funding in place as well as a solid process endorsed by all, your innovation process should deliver some pretty fantastic outcomes. If you have more questions about establishing your process, please reach out me to discuss further. If you'd like to view the recorded Q&A with Planview and Innovation SE, it's available here.

 (original use of photograph in this article on Inc.com: http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/11/how-to-run-a-brainstorming-session.html)



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