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Innovation begins with just one great idea – built upon, tested, retested and executed with care. It can take thousands of ideas, over the course of weeks, months or even years to reach that one great idea that will bring Innovation and profitable growth to a company. The goal of successful innovation is to get to those monumental moments quicker and more often in order to stay ahead of your competition. That innovation effort is only possible through Idea Management – by holding ideation sessions within your organization. Be sure to create and maintain an idea hopper so you don’t lose any ideas that could potentially pay off later on.
There may be naysayers of ideation sessions, who claim they do not work or that there is no room in the budget. However, it’s all about that small percentage of ideas that make it through the process and produce immense payoff for the company. We’ve all seen that one innovative idea or product that’s catapulted sales and increased shareholder value tremendously for an organization. All it takes is that one great idea among thousands.
Do not overlook the importance of ideation sessions in the process of achieving Innovation. To maximize efficiency, invite your customers and salespeople to participate. It’s a golden opportunity to hear the needs of your consumers, and salespeople can produce invaluable insights about the marketplace. Include other departments of your organization as well, even the ones labeled “not creative” because it would be a shame to miss out on a potential opportunity. Everyone is a consumer so all opinions are relevant.
A diverse group, forced to perform out of their comfort zone, produces the highest quality work. So hold your ideation sessions outside of predictable times and locations – try it at a client’s office or a third party venue. Avoid Monday mornings, Friday afternoons or right after lunchtime when energy levels drop. Most importantly, accept every single idea that comes through without objection or ridicule. By asking the right open-ended questions to unlock new insights and discoveries, to narrowing down to specific concepts, you can jump start the idea process and reach the next “Aha!” moment sooner than your competitors. A concept that doesn’t work at the moment could prove to be successful later on down the road – so store best practices. Maintain an idea database, cross fertilize and keep those ideas until the right technology or cost is possible.
Robert’s Rules of InnovationTM is focused business innovation, with Robert Brands’ goal to bring one new idea to market every year. For more tips on Idea Management and the 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, see Robert’s Rules of InnovationTM published in March 2010 by Wiley.