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Reinventing Reinvention: 3 Pillars of Successful Innovation

Building an innovation process is hard work. We share 3 things your business must nail to start innovating efficiently.

1. Embrace and maintain a culture of innovation

Developing an innovation process for an organization is like doing a group project. It entails bringing together individuals with diverse expertise and backgrounds. The designated leader pushes the team to complete tasks, and hopefully, no one is slacking off.

But the most important thing that can power a group project is a good culture from the word ‘go’.

If you think about what a culture of innovation is, your mind might wander to engineering labs or vibrant open-plan workspaces, bustling with a group of inventive minds tirelessly working to tackle complex challenges. And while that sounds cool, innovation culture is a way of thinking.

A culture of innovation is an environment in which creativity and creative problem-solving are encouraged throughout the organization. It is a setting that fosters collaboration and encourages employees to think outside the box when it comes to generating new ideas or solving existing problems.

When a company embraces this culture, everyone has permission to experiment with innovation projects and make mistakes without fear of repercussion or punishment.

2. Structure your innovation pipeline

An innovation pipeline is a strategic framework for businesses to achieve their objectives by integrating innovative methodologies and processes into their operations.

This may just sound like a lot of big words; so let’s break that down with an example.

Imagine you’re a tech company that sells computers and phones. You work in one of the most saturated and competitive industries out there, with competitors releasing new features and functionality what seems like constantly. So, you’ve always got to be delivering something unique and innovative to remain relevant.

So how do you do that? You build an innovation pipeline.

This pipeline serves as the foundation for your innovation program. It defines how your team develops new product ideas, how you choose which ideas will become prototypes, and how you collaborate with your key stakeholders to build the product concepts.

So, essentially, an innovation pipeline makes your innovation strategy real; it sets out how you focus on solving real customer problems. Building an innovation pipeline is all about coming up with and developing new ideas, but none of these tasks can be achieved without the right corporate culture.

How Dig approaches the innovation pipeline

We’ve got a specific outlook on how innovation works best. This method lets us ideate, refine, re-test, and move into product development quickly and easily.

Here’s what each step looks like:

  1. Foundational research

    As the name suggests, this type of work involves gathering as much data as possible about your customer. Whether that’s mapping their customer journey or understanding the job your innovation needs to solve, your goal here is to create the foundations for further research.

  2. Identifying opportunities

    This step sets the stage for brands to develop as many new ideas as possible. Brainstorming sessions and ideation workshops would appear at this stage. This is the time for your team to look at customers’ pain points and come up with a range of unique ideas (crazy and silly ones included).

  3. Testing and refining ideas

    Here you start testing all the ideas you’ve generated. Put them all in an idea screening survey and send it to your potential customers. Ask your respondents to tell you which of the ideas they like best.

    Not all innovations are perfect from the start. That’s why you need to analyze how you can improve aspects of your idea so that it fully solves your customer’s pain points, and adds value to your CPG product portfolio.

    Upsiide’s Idea Split feature was built precisely for this reason: respondents answer a few questions about each idea to explain why they like or dislike it. Brands can then assess the results against business metrics that matter to them and discover which ideas are worthy of taking into development.

  4. Building and optimizing ideas

    Once you’ve tested your ideas, you can start optimizing the winning set for maximum success. This can be preemptively calculating where your innovation will source volume from, how it will compete against the competition, and if there are any of your own products that you’re stealing share from (i.e., cannibalizing). Then it’s time for the final product development process, determining who your consumers are and how you will launch the innovation. And finally it’s “go time” for the product launch!

  5. Tracking performance

    Now that the launch is behind you, you can start measuring how your innovation did and what returns it brought back. This is the time to compare your predictions to real performance data.

This process has helped many of our clients launch great innovation projects.

3. Learn to conduct research the agile way

Back in the day, market research was often considered a one-off task. Traditionally, when companies wanted to launch an innovation, they’d conduct a single piece of research: testing a few ideas, choosing the best-performing one, and launching it.

This approach took a long time, was costly, and, honestly, didn’t always mean that the final innovation was even that impactful. Thankfully, today, many tools can help you innovate quicker, easier and cheaper. These tools allow insights pros to approach research the agile way.

The agile movement is derived from the software development world. It begins with collecting consumer feedback as early as possible by releasing a minimally viable product (MVP).

So, agile means iteratively adapting or improving your product based on customer feedback. In reality, your product may be more challenging to update than software! So, in many industries (including market research), agility means leveraging market research to test ideas early and optimize them before launch.

If we compare this to a more traditional approach (i.e., a big, expensive, long research project with no real iteration), the agile method clearly wins out. It gets you to profitable, interesting concepts quicker.

Agility isn’t about conducting cheap and fast research. While keeping costs as low as possible and getting to answers quickly are essential for many brands, agility is primarily about learning, adapting, and moving forwards.

Want to learn how to apply these 3 things in your innovation projects? Read our full Reinventing Reinvention Guide now.