A seven step innovation framework - but not as you know it
People and organisations are complex, living entities. They can’t just be stuffed into a set of steps and made to perform like a well trained seal. So if you’re looking for an easy answer to innovation, I have some good news and some bad news. Which one would you like first?
Let’s start with…
The bad news is that in the world of innovation, there’s no one particular, perfect answer. Innovation is alive. That means it’s not linear; people are at the heart of innovation, and people aren’t linear.
The good news is that the bad news isn’t actually a problem. In fact, the bad news is what makes the whole process of innovation so very exciting.
In our quest to avoid failure and our desire for an instant solution, we often seek a quick how-to guide or methodology that does almost everything for us. Having a clear path to follow seems logical, and makes perfect sense. Why waste time?
So, keeping both types of news in mind, I’ve come up with a set of steps that can be your guide to creating a culture of innovation in your company.
Because there’s no one perfect answer, this Innovation Framework isn’t a rigid set of rules that you use to beat your people up with. Nor is it a prescriptive manifesto that you have to follow to the letter.
Either of those options would be self-defeating because a set, unwavering methodology for innovation will fall flat. At least, it will unless there are some accompanying mindset changes along the way.
Those changes include developing internal traits like:
- Always being curious
- Being brave
- Using your imagination before jumping into a solution
- Taking action
- Being agile enough to quickly change direction
Whilst the Innovation Framework can’t make you practice innovation, it can be a guide to fulfilling the innovation potential in your business. And it can definitely help you and your company to be a place where market-leading thinking thrives.
It’s an ongoing process, whose steps are:
- Dance with your Ogre. This is where innovation often stops before it even begins! So acknowledge the monster that says you’re not creative. Get laughter happening, have some fun, and be ready for the challenge.
- Get your language right. Many potential great ideas and products are killed by language the moment they’re mentioned. Language drives thinking, which drives behaviour – and behaviour drives results. You need to replace the words “no” and “but” with “yes” and “and”.
- So, what’s the problem? Innovation starts with a problem, not an idea. Get really clear on the problem you’re trying to solve before you try to solve it. Be a curious cat and keep asking “why?” to get to the heart of the issue, and keep focusing on the end user.
- Explore your idea. Go really, really wide in your thinking before you go deep. Great stimulation in = great ideas out. To get really clear on what your problem is, leverage as many different approaches and styles as you can. Overload your senses with multiple forms of stimulation, and have some fun.
- Prototype and test it. Get real with your idea and mock it up. Draw it out, cut and paste it, build it, make it visual, but whatever you do, create something tangible that people can interact with. Get real. What’s working here? What’s missing? Where would this stumble?
- Pitch it/Share it. Every idea needs a commercial blowtorch applied to it. Get real, add some deadlines, and share your idea. Be ready to tell people what’s exciting about your idea, and embrace feedback and different perspectives.
- Repeat. The process of innovation is never-ending. So you need a never-ending curiosity and energy to make great stuff happen. “Repeat” is the new mantra for a culture of innovation.
And there you have it – a handy seven step guide to point your culture of innovation journey in the right direction.
If you're reading this and thinking, "mmmm, that sounds interesting" and would like to know more about my Innovation Workshops, Design Sprints or Keynote Speaking and kickstarting a culture of innovation in your organisation, get in touch.
Simon Banks is an author and International Keynote speaker on creativity and innovation and recovering artist. He's delivered over 1300 events across the globe. He's the Director of creative training company VisualFunk, known for running innovation workshops, conferences and design sprints to brew fresh thinking and develop market-leading ideas. His book A Thousand Little Lightbulbs: How to kickstart a culture of Innovation in your Organisation is out now.