Every business will run into problems. Even the standard-bearers of industry will find that, sometimes, the business model they've found success with for years is suddenly not working. Technology advanced. Consumer behavior shifted. The product or service isn't in line with the times. Whatever the reason, it's clear that a shift is needed. The enterprise must innovate. If you're sitting in the enterprise, reading this now, you know the feeling. You (and your company) need to make a meaningful shift to stay ahead of the competition. How can you get it done? Use an innovation process. 'Innovation' is often tossed around as the trendy buzzword of the month. But, when put to the process, innovation becomes an action and problems become prototypes.
Take a look at some of the general stages involved in an innovation process. It will become clear why the process works and why your company needs to get on board today:
Ideation is, literally, coming up with ideas and concepts. However, when put into the context of a process, ideation takes on a more significant role than it sounds like. Using frameworks like Design Thinking, ideation is a process-within-a-process that draws out creative thinking and leads to some unconventional (and highly successful) ideas. If you're strapped for ideas, ideation will get them flowing.
Screening a concept helps vet ideas for feasibility. If you came up with multiple good ideas in the Ideation phase, it's important to narrow them down and evaluate them to make sure that the ideas you move forward with can actually work. Screening helps eliminate ideas with fatal flaws and helps affirm ideas that have potential. If you can't decide between several ideas, screening can help clear the indecision.
Proof of Concept
A 'Proof of Concept' is typically a small, incomplete version of a concept or idea that is created to demonstrate its feasibility. Instead of relying on theory, a proof of concept shows, firsthand, that the idea or concept will work. Building a proof of concept is an effective way to gain support from the enterprise for a new idea. If you can demonstrate that the concept is feasible, it will go a long way.
Testing & Research
Testing and Research is exactly what it sounds like: testing and research. This is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in every product development project. Using an innovation process, testing and research is strict. It has to be. Before a POC can move forward towards development, every angle needs to be considered. Thorough research and testing means smoother ensuing phases.
Typically, the enterprise is large. VERY large. When going through the process of innovation, it is crucial to determine scaling. An idea, product, or service that works for 20 people, may not work for 20,000 people. Scaling is the process of evaluating what it will take to adapt the concept for larger populations. This can get especially tricky with international and remote staff. All pitfalls need to be accounted for.
Design is the stage in which the product, service, or concept is actually, well, designed. From general aesthetic to specific colors and details, this phase covers all aspects of design. Design has an impossible-to-overstate impact on how a new product or service will be received. There's a reason that industry giants pour money and effort into it. A good design can make your great idea even better.
After the idea or concept has been fully vetted and designed, development can begin. In the development stage, your product or service begins to come to life. Through process, you're at the doorstep of a concept that could help your enterprise move into the future with confidence. When innovation reaches the development stage, you can be assured that it is ready for the spotlight.
After your product or service is developed, it needs to be tested before it can reach the enterprise or the market. In addition to tests of functionality and performance, further research is performed. Q&A sessions with users will help to reveal any outstanding bugs or problems that could prove to be challenges and will help refine and improve your new product or service.
Innovation is a process. Understand that and your business is primed to get to that elusive next level.