3 “Must Do’s” for Breakthrough Innovation7 November, 2014 / Articles
What are my top three “must do’s” for breakthrough innovation success?
I would say the first is to try to generate ideas that are truly radical. Companies can no longer hope to significantly grow revenues by coming up with a slightly improved version of the same old thing and then selling it to the same old customers through the same old channels in the same old way. I consider an idea to be truly radical if it has the power to dramatically reset customer expectations and behaviors; or to change the basis for competitive advantage; or to change industry economics in some significant way.
A great ideation tool for generating breakthrough ideas like these is “The Four Lenses of Innovation,” which is the subject of my new book, This methodology, which I have used all around the world with leading brands from Coca-Cola to Bayer to Dow Chemicals, helps you develop radical new opportunities by systematically challenging industry orthodoxies, harnessing trends, leveraging resources in new ways, and addressing unmet customer needs. So what you tend to get is bold, unconventional ideas that are of far higher quality and strategic value to the company than the output from tired, more traditional ideation methods — brainstorming, creative thinking games, and so forth. So that’s my Number One, which has to do with the front end of innovation.
Number Two would be to create the necessary infrastructures, processes and mechanisms at the back end to ensure that breakthrough ideas are nurtured and supported in the organization rather than squashed. In the past on Innovation Excellence, I have touched on some of the ways to do that, such as freeing up management time for innovation, properly screening and evaluating ideas based on their potential business impact, instituting mechanisms for rapidly reallocating resources behind promising opportunities, and building new organization structures for handling ideas that fall outside or even threaten the existing business model.
My Number Three “Must Do” for breakthrough innovation is to get the timing right. There is an assumption that every breakthrough innovation opportunity is like a sprint — the first company to market wins. This is not necessarily true. The first step to winning the race is realizing whether you are in a sprint or a marathon.