When it comes to innovation, ideas alone aren’t enough


When it comes to effective innovation, ideas alone just aren't enough

Ideation is at the fuzzy front end of innovation. Using sticky notes, brainstorming sessions, interviews, and sometimes arts and crafts, organisations implement a range of activities in the name of capturing the voice of the customer to deliver “the next big thing.”  To support this stage, some companies even implement the use of specialised software tools which are Facebook-like in usability, allowing users to submit ideas and vote on them to choose winners.

However, industry research shows that being creative is not enough to successfully launch a new product. Ideation without execution will not deliver innovations to market.

The average performing companies in the industry only have a 45% success rate for the three-year commercial success of launched products. This is a terrible return on investment – essentially 50/50 odds! And the story is even worse for the bottom performers in the industry with only a 24% product launch success rate.

Here are three considerations today’s organisations should bear in mind if they want their ideas to succeed.

  1. Companies have plenty of ideas, but they may not be the right ones. Idea pipelines are often crammed with line extensions, safe bets, and “me toos.” That’s not innovation. Filling the funnel with more of these time/money/resource-wasters will not help achieve organisational growth goals. Instead, companies should ensure their innovation strategy dedicates time and resources to breakthrough ideas that will truly change the game and create new categories where their competition can’t touch them.
  2. Capturing good ideas is great, but that’s not the hard part. Getting projects through the funnel and winning products out the door is the ultimate goal. Innovation teams can get enamoured with the visual appeal of front-end ideation tools but then what? Most ideation tools have one major flaw – no execution functionality. They’re all bark and no bite. Just like the gated idea-to-launch process, companies need an end to end solution that can offer visibility into the entire pipeline, not just the front end.
  3. Most companies struggle to identify winning ideas. When product organisations don’t have the process and tools to separate the good ideas from the great ideas, they say yes to everything. The result of this lack shows up as the number one pain point among product organisations: too many ideas and projects for the number of resources available. If a business suffers from this affliction, filling the pipe with new ideas is not their problem. Creating capacity for innovation and ensuring projects are properly prioritised and executed with the right resources is where they need to focus their attention.

Filling the pipeline with MORE ideas will not result in improving the odds of delivering successful, innovative products to market. This “shotgun approach” doesn’t yield great results. It just clogs the pipe.

Ideas are necessary for a healthy commercialisation process. However, they are worthless if a company doesn’t have the resources to execute against them. The use of purpose-built innovation software tools is critical when an organisation’s problem is missing the voice of the customer or a roadmap that is lacking differentiated products scheduled for launch- and is key to turning ideas into innovation.

By Carrie T Nauyalis, Solution Evangelist, Planview