INnovation Techniques

Feature of week February 28, 2017

Learn the Power of Little Ideas

Learn the Power of Little Ideas

What is “Innovating Around the Box”? Why should you learn this approach to innovation? Where and when would you apply it?  Innovation Navigation host David Robertson will be offering a free webinar about his new bookThe Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation. 

To read more about the book, get a free chapter, and register for the free live webinar, click here.

 

 

 

Feature of week 4/28/2015

Rename It

Rename It

Rename It

RENAME IT

Reconceive the idea by renaming it

Words affect our view of the world. What if the name/ descriptor of the challenge were completely different? How would you solve the challenge?

Process:

  • Generate a few names for the challenge. Instead of a shopping cart, what if it were a shopper’s companion? A shopper’s entertainment center? A shopper’s nutrition guide?
  • What ideas can you generate for the new challenge?

 

Feature of week 4/21/2015

Narration

Narration

Narration

NARRATION

Ask the user to talk you through the experience

Don’t just interview the user – give them the product or service and ask them to describe aloud what they are thinking as they use it.

Process:

  • Find a willing user and give them one or a few examples of the product.
  • Ask them to use the product(s) and tell you what they’re thinking as they use it.
  • Write down quotes verbatim for later use by the team. Have a camera ready to take pictures of critical moments.

 

Feature of week 4/14/2015

The Real-Win-Worth It Test

The Real-Win-Worth It Test

The Real-Win-Worth It Test

Real – Win – Worth it

Determine whether an idea is likely to be a business success

This quick test will highlight areas that need to be addressed before launching the product into the market.

Process:

Is it real?

  • Is there a need? What is the need? How is the need presently satisfied?
  • Who is the customer? How big is the market?
  • Can the customer buy? What are they willing to pay?
  • Will the customer buy? What are the perceived risks and benefits?
  • Is there a real product concept?
  • Is the product acceptable within current social, legal, and environmental norms, rules, and regulations?
  • Will the product satisfy the market?
  • Can it be produced at reasonable cost?
  • Are there other barriers to adoption?

Can we win?

  • Do we have a competitive advantage?
  • Is the competitive advantage sustainable?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Will we beat the competition? How much will they improve? Could new entrants take the market?

Is it worth doing?

  • Will it make money?
  • Can we get the resources we need?
  • Are the risks acceptable to us?

 

Feature of week 1/7/2015

Campaign Creation

Campaign Creation

Campaign Creation

A good product is easy to market

The ability to create a compelling story around the new solution is a test of its market attractiveness.

Process:

  • Develop an advertising/ communications campaign around the new solution:
    • Decide which target group to focus on
    • Determine the main idea behind the campaign: what message must be communicated? What should be mentioned explicitly/ implicitly?
    • Develop a newspaper/ magazine advertisement or a commercial, specifying e.g. the setting, the character(s), the story, the tagline.
    • What other types of (alternative) communication strategies can you use? Describe.
  • Evaluate: Is the concept ‘market-able’ as is or should it be adapted in any way to make it even stronger as a total concept?

 

Feature of week 3/24/2015

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping

MIND MAPPING

Visually represent the problem

Mind mapping® is a visual brainstorming technique that can help stimulate the right side of your brain and produce creative ideas. The basic process for mind mapping is:

Process

  • In the centre of a large piece of paper or whiteboard, write a word (or short phrase) expressing the challenge to explore. Draw a circle around it. Try to stick to single words.
  • Quickly and freely associate and write down ideas as branches. Start new branches from the centre or add to existing branches.
  • You can use symbols, figures or drawings rather than words if you are more of a “visual” person.
  • Pay attention to related ideas across branches as these may reveal unthought-of relationships.
  • To stimulate more ideas and associations, draw empty branches. Your brain will then automatically want to fill them in.
  • Keep going until you build a large mind map and run out of ideas.
  • Re-do the mind map as many times as necessary – regroup concepts, reverse relationships, and connect ideas until you feel comfortable with it.

 

Feature of week 3/10/2015

Find the Work-Arounds

Find the Work-Arounds

Find the Work-Arounds

FIND THE WORK-AROUNDS

Where are your users fixing your product for you?

If your product or service isn’t working right, usually regular users will fix it for you. Look for post-its with helpful instructions that really explain how to work
the product. Ask your clerks or salespeople what advice they give their customers. Find the signs that a product or service is incomplete or flawed.

Process:

  • Identify a range of different users of your (type of) product or service. Ask to come visit them to see how they use the product. Take a camera when you go.
  • Look for fixes, improvements, directions, notes or other evidence that your product is not as useful and/or useable as it could be (Duct tape and post-its are big clues.)
  • Capture the fixes and work-arounds with
    pictures and notes.
  • How could you make these part of the product?

Image: Duct tape work-around for toothpaste. Perhaps seeing this in user’s homes led to the “neat-squeeze” toothpaste bottle, seen below.

Neat-Squeeze-Bottle

 

Feature of week

Ask Kids

Ask Kids

Ask Kids

ASK KIDS

What new perspective can children add?

Kids are different – they see things that adults miss or ignore. And there’s no way to simulate their perspective – not only can we not remember when we were six years old, but the world of six year olds today is much different than when we were kids.

Some guidelines for drawing out ideas from kids:

  • Tell them something about yourself – your interests, your hobbies, your world.
  • Have fun – make them laugh. They’ll open up more.
  • Ask them to invite their friends along. Two or three kids will open up more than one.
  • Get a tour of the house. If the parents say it’s OK they will happily show you around. They’ll show you what’s important to them, giving you a clear view into their world.
  • Ask them about their shoes. Every kid has an opinion.
  • Ask them what they would buy for 10 Euros (dollars, SFr, etc.). Or 100. This will help you understand what’s really hot with older kids and teenagers.
  • Tell them that the project is top secret (but only if it really is). A little secrecy will add drama, make them feel important, and increase their interest.

 

Feature of week

Competition Mapping

Competition Mapping

Competition Mapping

Map competitive products along different axes

Mapping competitor products helps to gain an understanding of the main areas current producers focus on, and helps to identify potential blind spots.

Process:

  • List the major competitors in the market (also in niche categories)
  • Think of 2 axes upon which the products differ
    (e.g. good value vs. expensive, simple vs. full functionality)
  • Plot competitive products in the mapping. Is one area free? Is this an interesting opportunity? Or do you want to be in the middle?
  • Repeat with different axes.

Example pictured is for an MP3 player.

 

Feature of week 4/1/2014

The Innovation Matrix

The Innovation Matrix

Build a portfolio of complementary innovations

The innovation matrix is a powerful tool for identifying and coordinating the development of different types of innovation.

In many markets, it is not enough to develop one new product. To create a sustained advantage, you need more. Imagine if Apple came out with the iPod—without iTunes, without the FairPlay copy protection system, without the 99-cent-per-song pricing model, or without complementary products such as docks, skins, and chargers that enhance the user experience. Apple continues its domination of the online music market over a decade later because of the suite of products and services, the business models and core capabilities, and the marketing that supported its initial offering.

This holistic approach to innovation involves four innovation arenas: product, business, communication, and process; and then coordinates innovation efforts across the organization. It is not something many companies do well. But by using an Innovation Matrix, you can map out new products—from incremental improvements to revolutionary breakthroughs—and clearly identify where resources are needed, what other innovation efforts could support the product, and see where efforts need to be coordinated.

Use these four steps to help fill out and use the Innovation Matrix:

  1. Meet with the team that has a new product or service concept, and place the innovation in the appropriate column in the matrix. Locate it vertically by assessing how incremental or radical the innovation is; incremental improvements go near the bottom while “never seen before” revolutionary innovations are at the top.
  2. Brainstorm complementary products, services, business models, etc. that could make it more successful. What new service would help make a new product successful? Would a new pricing model distinguish the offering, or would a new sales channel help you reach more customers? Work your way across the matrix to identify these potential complementary innovations.
  3. Ask who will work on these complementary innovations. How will they get information, how will they be coordinated with the content and timing of what the product team is doing?
  4. Consider staffing, funding, and reviewing. If you are going to work with a team that draws from business development, sales, operations, manufacturing, marketing, and/or customer support, who will represent them during reviews, where does their funding come from, and how will you measure and reward this extended team? If you have a reward system that encourages the product team to simply develop a better product, that is what you will get. But if you want a set of complementary products that can help you take the market by storm, you must invest, staff, review, and reward that broader goal.

Even if you don’t have full control over the innovation process, you can use the Matrix as a communication tool, starting the conversation with management about what needs to be done and demonstrating a strategic approach to innovation. The Matrix will help identify what is under your control, what other resources you need, and what the coordination challenges will be.
InnovationMatrix

 

 

 

Feature of week 03/25/2014

Negative Idea Generation: Solve the Opposite Problem

Negative Idea Generation: Solve the Opposite Problem

Source: David Robertson, 2013

Turn the situation upside-down and generate ideas for the new, opposite situation. This is a very powerful and fun method:

  • Present the challenge. (“e.g. Create a new alarm clock.”)
  • Reformulate the challenge in the negative. (“Create the worst possible alarm clock.”)
  • Generate ideas to the negative problem: don’t be afraid to generate too many, or to think of even the most ridiculous ones.
  • Transform these ideas to the positive. Don’t just do this translation idea-by-idea, but see if you can combine many negative ideas to generate a single positive solution to the challenge.