Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ideas into action

What's interesting to me about innovation is how many ways it is defined. The definition we use - People putting ideas into valuable action - seems right to me. We believe that merely generating ideas simply isn't enough. In fact, to be innovative, we've got to put those ideas into action as new products or services.

Simply creating ideas isn't enough. I guess the creativity side of innovation gets a lot of attention because it's the fun part. The creativity part is where you get to go to a brightly colored room with slinkys and play doh and get creative. You'll spend the day wearing many hats and generating crazy ideas. Who doesn't enjoy doing this stuff? It's like being a kid sometimes, and you can get paid to do it!

The rst of innovation, though, is much more like a traditional business process - or it ought to be. That's the part where you choose an idea or initiative to work on, evaluate the idea, consider how valuable it could be in the market and whether or not you can make it and sell it, or provide it to your market. Then you've got to build a prototype and then determine how to price the product and revise it so people will buy it. Eventually you'll release a new product into a new product development process or devise a new service offering and prepare to offer it to your customers.

Gosh - this part of innovation sound like, well, work. It actually sounds a lot like the stuff we do most days in our regular jobs. Market assessments and pricing models and building a new product. In fact, much of innovation is simply a continuation of your standard business processes - just with some new products and services in mind.

To me the hard part is the transition - moving from the playdoh and slinky to the established business processes. There's a very important discontinuity there - moving from a very free-form idea generation process into a very "mundane" idea management process, and I think that's where ideas get lost.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:37 AM

39 Comments:

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You are right on target - thinking of ideas AND implementing the good ones is part of everyone's job.

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What you speak of requires passion for your ideas. For an idea to survive the process it must go through to be realized, at least one person must really WANT to see that idea come to fruition. But I think some merit can be found in innovative suggestions made simply in the hope of sparking other more elaborate or substantive invention among members of a group.

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