To prepare for some of our design thinking ideation sessions, we spend time interviewing and observing our typical customer. Now, this is difficult for me sometimes because I am such a compulsive problem solver that I sometimes have a tough time just sitting there and observing. I want to jump up and help the customer…
The room was hushed.
The presenter had completed a very thorough presentation of using their tool to develop a robust innovation program, with all the fixings: the goals were clearly set out, the right people were involved at every level of the organization (yep, they had not one but two executive sponsors), the plan to reward the inventors was fully fleshed out and funded, the processes used to capture and review the ideas was set, a plan to funnel those ideas into the product or patent pipeline was nailed, and the marketing plan to communicate everything was detailed out. The program was launched, ran well with only a few minor glitches, and both the prototype and patent pipelines were full of interesting ideas. Employees had enjoyed the program, competing and collaborating with each other to know out some fantastic ideas, which were now sitting, ready to be built in the product pipeline, and invention disclosure forms were being filled out for some of the more far forward thinking ideas, so that they could capture the IP even they weren’t able to build the products immediately. News of the program had leaked into the press, and even analysts were looking at the company in a new light – could they innovate their ways out of the doldrums they seemed to be in.
Innovation From Necessity
I’ve heard it said a few times that its necessity that drives innovation – that if you aren’t trying to solve a hairy problem or your back is against the wall – that is the only space that innovation comes from. The companies will only innovate if they are forced to.