Companies are often created from a great idea, which is then developed and shaped by people into a product. When we ask companies if they think they are innovative, they frequently answer, “of course we are, we have a parking lot of ideas.”
Cars parked in a lot do not move and likewise, the ideas that get ‘parked’ by companies often never move. Businesses putting effort into ideation events or hack-a-thons to extract ideas from their employees are met with a challenge when these sources of innovation aren’t considered further. This can deter employees from trying to be creative as it cultivates a mindset of cynicism around innovation.
How these new ideas are supported from conception into implementation is the lifeblood of every business. Supporting and developing ideas can make or break your long-term success.
Companies should have a deliberate and strategic idea development system, as they need to continuously innovate in order to remain competitive and create new market opportunities. Innovation is not only for disruptive products, but can also include incremental improvements, revolutionary marketing strategies, new manufacturing or development processes, clever pricing strategies and cutting-edge branding.
For innovation to be leveraged, it needs to become part of the strategy, culture and the brain of the company. By fostering an innovation-minded culture – with simple processes for collecting innovative ideas and processes for managing the pipeline of ideas to move them forward – a company can continue to innovate without adding overhead. When ideas move from the parking lot and are strategically developed through the innovation pipeline, employees feel valued, empowered and rewarded.
Similar to a freeway, innovation processes need to be fluid and customized to the organization to allow for efficient collaboration between Research and Development (R&D) and product management.
Think of an innovation meter: at the beginning of the company’s life, the dial is at maximum while the initial product is designed and marketing strategies are created. As the company moves into a more mature deployment phase, the focus shifts to urgent short-term problem solving and the innovation dial slowly reaches zero before anyone notices it.
Ensure your company will remain in the fast lane and continue to pass your competitors. It could be time to move your ideas from the parking lot, rev up your creative engine and get on the Innovation Freeway™.
Natalie Giroux is a pragmatic achiever with extensive experience in the areas of strategic intellectual property management, network performance engineering, traffic management, technical due diligence. She has been with Stratford Managers for over eight years and has been providing strategic virtual IP management services for several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She is passionate about maximizing the value of innovation, to learn more contact Natalie.
This article has been written by Natalie Giroux, Business Lead, Innovation Strategy and Tim Fleming, VP Innovation Management at Stratford Managers.