Published – Gold Coast Bulletin, Gold Coast QLD by Paul Mckey
23 Mar 2015
CREATIVITY, invention and inspiration are terms people associate with innovation.
While they are correct, the brilliant moment, spark or idea is just the first step on the long road to market.
When the boss says more innovation is needed in products or services, we rush for the paper and the coloured pens.
After all, brainstorming is fun.
But in business, where maintaining cashflow is the priority, most good ideas do not survive the reality of limited time and resources.
Yet some simple steps can help ensure your eureka moment is not wasted.
Innovation has at least four critical steps: intuiting, interpreting, integrating and implementing*.
Intuiting is thinking up something new, and it has a twin: informing.
New ideas typically come from years of practice and absorbing information that helps us join random dots into a new pattern.
For instance, Airbnb didn’t invent anything.
It just connected customers (who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a room) with spare rooms via a slick booking system.
Interpreting is when you take your idea and explain it to colleagues, boss or bank manager. If you can’t explain it, forget it. Your idea might just be a concept but you must have the ability to sell it to other people.
Integrating is when you ask the hard questions about how your product or service fits in. Who wants it? How will customers find it and pay?
These are critical tests any new idea must pass.
Implementation is putting it into practice, and it is where the fun starts. It is usually harder and takes longer than you think to put a new product into the market.
The Lean Business model teaches us to spare the cash but not the effort in the early days. Only when you are sure of a winner do you spend big on marketing and production.
So make sure you have a solid innovation process, one in which people can safely generate, share and test ideas, and success will come more often.
*4i Model – Crossan, Lane and White, 1999.