Achieving success through the Innovation Process
Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail 1000 times, the light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps”. He may not have known it then, but Edison’s experiments with the many iterations of the light bulb is a key element of the Innovation Process and making use of it to achieve success.
“Innovation” or being “innovative” is what we all aspire for our business ideas to be. But what does innovation or being innovative mean? Innovation is when an idea or invention is translated into a product or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. Successful innovation typically follows a process of steps, which will ensure that your idea or invention can come to successful fruition.
It all begins with a great idea. Great ideas are not accidental. If an idea is not translated into a product or service one the first try, it doesn’t mean the idea is a total failure but rather that you should go back to the drawing board and refine the idea further, until it comes right. The ability to withstand failure demonstrates the inherent quality of the idea. It took Thomas Edison 1000 steps to perfect the light bulb. Imagine if he had given up on the 999th time. Would he still be considered one of the greatest inventors ever?
So, what is the process behind innovation and how can it help you and your business idea achieve success? The process is divided up into five stages: Idea Generation, Screening and Advocacy, Experimentation, Commercialisation and Implementation and Diffusion. Each stage of the innovation process is an essential part in the journey of innovation. Most organizations and inventors are so focused on the end result of their idea, that following any sort of guiding process is secondary.
Here are the five stages of the innovation process explained, to help you and your business along the journey and to achieve the most successful result.
Start the Innovation Process with ‘Idea Generation’
This is where the innovation process begins! New ideas are created during idea generation. Your long-term success depends on the generation of new ideas and taking them further, by developing them. Innovation inside organizations can be more difficult, given the size and the internal processes. But in order for organizations to stay innovative and cutting-edge, they should give employees time to innovate and to come up with new business ideas for them.
Once your ideas are decided on, the next step to take is mobilization; where you take your idea or invention to a physical or logical location for screening.
‘Advocacy and Screening’: Weighing up your idea
Screening new ideas is vital. You need to weigh up your idea’s potential of becoming a valuable product or service. Transparent evaluation, screening protocols and honest feedback discussions are a must for this stage of the process. You need to contemplate the pros and cons around each idea, and this is where it gets difficult – it is important to remember that not every idea is worth implementing.
Experimentation: Does your idea work in reality?
Experimenting with your screened, chosen idea is next. The point of experimenting with your idea is to check the suitability of it, especially when it comes to being suitable for organizations. It’s important to understand that your experiment is still a success, even if your idea doesn’t give you your expected or desired outcome. The results of experimentation show you where refinery is still needed and might even spark a new idea, based on the results and overall feasibility of the original idea. Each iteration of your idea should be experimented on, so that you can learn about your idea in action. You need to know and be sure whether it is feasible to continue or if the original idea requires adaptation to become a working product or service.
Commercialization: Getting ready to go to market
By the time you get to this stage, you’ll have a working product ready for commercialization. Now, you need to target your product to your audience’s needs. At this stage of innovation process, your focus must shift from the development to persuasion – you do want your product or service to be bought after all!
Key things to remember to do at this stage include:
- Clarifying how and when the idea can be used.
- Determining the value for an idea by focusing on its potential impact to the target market.
- Establish specifications of the idea.
‘Diffusion and Implementation’ ends the process
This is the last stage of the innovation process. Diffusion occurs when your idea is accepted, and implementation sets up everything needed to develop and utilize or produce the innovation, particularly important when innovation occurs within an organization and requires acceptance. Once you have acceptance of the current idea, you can start to think about the next round of the innovation process, whether it builds on your current idea or is a brand new one.
The innovation process is not a long one, but a very important one to guide new innovations. Let’s not forget that brilliant innovations require hard work and many require several iterations before they are ready – like Edison, it might even take you 1000 steps.
Source: Cultivating a Robust Organization: 5 Stages of the Innovation Process by Brian Neese. Rivier University Online.
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