Ideation: your foundation for new product success
Source external ideas from a wide range of stakeholders. External sourcing of ideas is really about harnessing the collective knowledge of, or at best co-creating with, partners, customers, suppliers, vendors, and even competitors. This encompasses a wide spectrum of activities including:
Working collaboratively with individual innovative customers
Researching customer needs using “voice of the customer” tactics such as extended observation, in-depth
interviews, focus groups or advisory panels
Seeking ideas from outside partners and vendors
Accessing the external technical community through innovation communities such as InnoCentive
Seeking and rewarding submission of ideas from users, customers and other external parties
Co-creating products with customer, partners or vendors from start-to-finish
Utilizing large group, web-enabled models such as open source or crowd sourcing.
Step 2: Identify
Once you have generated a comprehensive range of ideas, the next step is review them to identify which ideas are worth exploring further.
Create a set of screening criteria. Using your innovation strategy parameters as well as other considerations, develop a set of criteria to use in evaluating and ranking each idea. These criteria may include strategic alignment with your priority core and emerging target markets and technologies, estimated level of investment and risk, ability to leverage core resources and competencies, and fit with company values and policies.
Use these criteria to assess and rank the ideas. Each idea should be quickly and objectively assessed against your evaluation criteria. Ideas that meet all criteria should be prioritized for further consideration, while those that do not must be either refined or scrapped.
Step 3: Explore
Once you have a prioritized list of ideas, the next step is to conduct a quick and relatively inexpensive preliminary assessment to explore the potential of each idea. Critical to this step is to conduct three, integrated assessments: market, technical and financial.
Market assessment. The market assessment comprises a first cut target market definition, and a high level analysis of the urgency of demand and likelihood of market acceptance, the possible current and future market size, and the current and emerging competitive landscape. It should also include a first cut assessment of go-to-market options. The goal is to explore whether there are obvious market reasons to either pursue the opportunity or drop it. This activity should primarily comprise online research, internal discussion, and interviews with a range of customers, partners, competitors, thought leaders and other market participants.
Technical assessment. The technical assessment focuses on the first cut product definition, and the high level feasibility, possible options, general timeframe and resource requirements, and potential risks and obstacles to develop and produce the product. Again, the goal is to explore whether there are any immediate reasons to pursue or drop the idea. Activity should comprise internal discussions as well as interviews with selected partners and vendors.
Financial assessment. The financial assessment should build on the market and technical assessment to create a preliminary, back-of-the-envelope financial model to test the idea’s fundamental economics and assumptions.
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