Master Ideation with this Checklist

The process of realising innovation rarely happens in a linear mannerOur research has shown that radical innovators (those that create aspire to realise significant change) are far more rigorous and structured in their approach and use of process than those that pursue only incremental innovation (gradual change).

Rigorous and Structured Approach

With this checklist you can add a little bit of structure to the creative chaos in order to turn ideas into value.

  1. Determine a Strategic Initiative and define a challenge within the initiative that you want input on. 
  2. Find a Sponsor for the campaign, preferably someone with high credibility and visibility within the organization with access to the resources needed to move promising ideas forward. 
  3. Define the Campaign with a title and description. Depending on how you write the campaign you will get different input. Broad or narrow, specific or fluffy, long or short text. There is no right answer, try to be as clear as possible on the type of input you’re looking for. 
  4. Set a time window for how long the campaign will be open. It can be 24 hours or several months depending on the campaign. 
  5. Decide which groups to invite (employees, customers, partnersstakeholders etc) and communicate to these invited groups why they’re invited, what the challenge is about and how to contribute. 
  6. Monitor progress to ensure people active and excited or do you just hear little? If you can hear the sounds of silence, try to understand why. Do people not understand how to contribute? Or is the challenge unclear? Are people afraid to submit “bad” ideas? 
  7. Close the campaign when you’re happy with the input and cluster the ideas in themes, that are arranged by interesting patterns or common denominators. Give feedback to the ideators on the progress of their ideas. This is very important! 
  8. Prioritize the clusters based on pre-defined criteria (for example their potential impact and implementation feasibility) and then connect hypotheses to the ideas in order to test them through experimentation. What assumptions do you have about your idea? Does it fill a real need for someone? Will people pay for it? Does the organization have the credibility to commercialize it? How will it be developed? 
  9. Update ideators on what clusters and hypotheses their ideas belong to. If possible, maybe even invite them into certain steps such as experiments. 
  10. Take decisions on which hypotheses to test and how to test them. Which components are the most important to verify for the idea to be validated? You don’t want to end up in the Museum of Failure so make sure you do this. 
  11. Give feedback to ideators on how the experiments went. What hypotheses were validated or invalidated and which ones need further testing 
  12. Decide how to move forward when experiments have been conducted and results validated or invalidated: move a cluster of ideas to development, park the cluster, or continue testing to learn more before making a decision. 
  13. Give feedback to ideators on what happened to their ideas in step 12. 
  14. Celebrate the learnings you gained from the parked ideas and the promising future for the ideas moved to further development. 

Then…start over with step 1 or jump back to step 3 to collect new input based on what you learned or jump to step 7 to re-cluster due to new insights or jump to step 10 to write new hypotheses. 

You are never done with innovation and that’s explains why it is not a linear process.

The world and competitors will keep changing. Organizations that manage to stay successful over time master exploring new opportunities in parallel with executing the core business. Balance is key, ambidexterity in achieving the balance is the capability to be built. 

Part of this blog post was Co-authored with Peet Van Biljon and originally posted in Innovation Leaders magazine Pointers June Edition (