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Posted by Simon Yates on April 3, 2012
The pressure to innovate has never been greater for every company. After speaking to many CIOs and business leaders about innovation, a couple of issues rose to the surface: ideas are being drawn from so many sources now -- employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders -- that the decision about what to invest in is getting harder. At the same time, the process for sorting through, evaluating and incubating is cumbersome. In my almost-finished report, I decided to take a crack at developing a simple methodology and evaluation tool that helps spot good ideas in the pile quickly and fast-track them into an incubation stage.
Innovation is a discipline with established best practices, needed skill sets, and time-tested processes and tools. But even the process of innovating is being disrupted by social media, collaborative tools, and customer empowerment. A good innovation program empowers your people, engages partners and customers, revives morale during challenging times, and provides an extra shot of competitive energy when you need it. Engaging in a genuine and meaningful dialog with customers, partners and employees around innovation is admirable and has proven to be a great source of new ideas for many companies. However with so many ideas being generated, time and energy gets wasted on ideas that won't go anywhere, vague criteria designed to cast the widest net don't provide any kind of focus, and opaque evaluation processes leave people guessing about the status of their idea.
The key to a good innovation program is sustainability -- attracting a regular flow of new ideas into the pipeline and pushing the best ideas through a series of stages towards commercialization. I argue that the problem for most programs today is that lots of ideas are being stuffed into the pipeline on the front-end through ideation programs, but the pipe clogs quickly if you can't quickly evaluate the ideas based on useful criteria and fast-track the most promising. That's the basic problem I decided to tackle in my upcoming report.
I call it the Forrester Innovation Heat Index. Similar to the National Weather Service Heat Index, which combines three distinct elements -- air temperature, relative humidity and altitude -- to determine how hot it actually feels, the Forrester Innovation Heat Index combines three distinct elements to determine how hot an idea really is based on individual scores for:
Both the idea creator and the evaluator score the idea against these criteria. The idea, of course, is to make a quick decision about where to go from here without requiring a complete business case and all the analysis and hand-wringing that goes along with it. With the information in hand, the idea should fall into one of four categories:
In my next post, I'll talk about our ideas around incubation. The back-of-the-envelope level of evaluation that characterizes the Heat Index isn't enough to make a real investment decision, so the first step in incubation is to assemble a team and build a real business case. That's what we'll talk about next.
If you are interested in seeing the model or hearing more about this research, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment here too!
Thanks for reading!
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