Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Innovation Steps

The main idea I want you to think about today is this: What problems are people facing in a slow stagnating economy that you can turn into innovation opportunities?  What are people complaining about most?  What solutions are people searching for?  Now think through these innovation steps

Innovation Steps

Problems people have are most often the driving force behind innovation.  Problems, in reality, are human needs.  New ideas and ventures start with a problem.  The root of innovation is people want something solved, thus human need is the breeding ground for innovation.

Make a list of problems people have in the present economy.
2.  In many cases, an "aha moment" is the spark that lights the fuse of idea dynamite--exploding creative ideas that are the seed of solutions to solving the problems people have.  

Look at your problem list and brainstorm solutions.  Write them down because you will forget them. 

 3. Ideas alone will not result in innovation.  Ideas go through trials, iterations, and a development process.

The innovation process takes the idea and first prototypes it out to people.  Then, based on feedback, ideas are refined over and over asking "Will this solve your dilemma?"  

Who will you want to show your proto-type solution to?  Are you willing to listen--I mean really listen to people?

An Old Example

Let's make the abstract concrete.  The old Miller Lite beer problem was we want something that tastes great, but is less filling. 

Many businesses face this same challenge today as Americans are thinking more about obesity and health. 

People want healthy food and beverage items that are good for you, and taste good.  The problem is people are feeling pressured by society, wellness programs, and peer pressure to get healthier. 

So, let's say you devise a great idea for a zero carb product.  You roll out your prototype and ask customers and potential customers over and over and over--Does it taste good?  Is it healthy enough to meet your health and taste concerns?  This is how the iteration step works.

4.  Your innovation iteration launches your marketing plan.  As you have people try your products or services, look for which segments of people are responding most positively.  It may not be who you expected. 

Exposing your innovative solution to future customers helps with customer analysis and targeted marketing should you go to market. 

In our company, we were targeting the weight loss segment with a new low calorie "light bread," and in the process discovered diabetics found our product meeting their nutritional needs.  We never thought of that segment till we were doing store event promotions and talked to people receiving our promotional products!

All of the innovation steps described above can take weeks, months, and even years.  If you have an idea that you and many others think is good, be persistent and one day it just may pay big dollars!

Keep innovating! It is what America does best, and is the key to a recovery banging on all cylinders.  Go out and win!

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