Most companies we work with tend to take on a BIG ideation workshop every 12-18 months. Their intentions are good. They want to fill up a 5-7 year master plan with consumer relevant ideas for breakthrough marketing or product innovation ideas. And, most of the time, these workshops produce hundreds of ideas. And yet, most of the companies we work with would also say that they have two big problems with the output of these sessions: First, the ideas just aren’t “big” enough to achieve the volume goals they have; and second, the market is changing, faster than their 5 year master plan, and in most cases, faster than the 12-18 months between ideation workshops.
The ideation cycle needs a re-boot. Here are three suggestions to help organizations start thinking more entrepreneurially about ideation. To be clear, the foundational thought process of an entrepreneur identifies a consumer need, and/or a market reality and jumps into problem solving mode without waiting for an ideation workshop. So, with that in mind:
1. Make ideation a proactive habit, not a reactive effort. When you see a market shift, learn about a consumer need, or stumble on a new technology or business model, ideate pro-actively around it. Don’t wait until your pipeline of ideas is waning or competition beats you to market because their ideation workshop was scheduled a month before yours!
2. Consider a different kind of ideation session: more focused, more frequent, and equally focused on building ideas as generating them. Constantly re-evaluate both platform-level and product/marketing initiative ideas in your current plan. Focusing on a few specific gaps, but then building ideas out into more robust business models is typically more productive than generating hundreds of new ideas, and certainly more likely to quickly build the business than waiting for the next big ideation workshop to close the gap.
3. Practice producing better ideas. Teams that make a habit of generating and then building ideas are better at it than ones that don’t. (Think of it as flexing your idea development muscles.) They feel less pressure and more freedom as they practice. And, it takes less time to warm up, so more useful ideas come more quickly.
In short, pro-active, frequent, focused and robust ideation is the re-boot needed to take your initiative pipeline to the next level.
The Garage Group offers a focused and entrepreneurial approach to generating and building big ideas.
Photo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr user: The Generic Asian