How do organizations come up with new ideas? And how do they use those ideas to create successful new products, services, businesses, and solutions? The customer plays an important role in these strategies for strengthening the organizational idea factory. It only makes sense. The goal is to create ideas–the building blocks of new products, services, processes, and strategies–the users of which are customers.
In today’s article, we look at a few strategies to generate innovative ideas for a successful business.
1.Involve everyone in the quest for ideas
Organizations can enlarge their pool of ideas by including more employees in the process of new product and service ideation and in solving vexing organizational problems. Start by encouraging them to listen to customers. Don’t allow managers, technical specialists, or purchasing, finance, or human resource professionals to participate in new product/service/market development decisions unless they spend at least 20% of their time with current (or future) customers and suppliers.
2.Involve customers in your process
The traditional focus group needs more focus. Form advisory boards of key customers to serve as sounding boards for ideas. Identify customers who tend to buy the latest versions of your products. These “lead adopters” can provide you with insights about where the market may be headed and how your organization can best position itself.
3.Involve customers in new ways
Look outside your own field or industry for ideas on how to get customer input. Automakers, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, for instance, are on the leading edge of customer surveying and are often considered the early adopters of ideational techniques.
4.Focus on the unarticulated needs of customers
Learn from customers by observing what they are not doing, listening to what they are not saying. Recognize the sources of their frustration and find potential ways of eliminating it.
5.Seek ideas from new customer groups
Look at your customers’ customers and your competitors’ customers. Instead of looking at only the present, look also at the past (former customers) and the future (anyone you haven’t done business with yet). Ask how you might meet those customers’ needs.
6.Involve suppliers in product ideation
Just as you look to your customers for new ideas (such as by detecting their unarticulated needs), think of your organization as your supplier’s customer. You, too, have unarticulated needs. Try articulating them and get your supplier’s idea-generating capacity working in concert with yours.
7.Benchmark ideation methods
Organizations that rely on innovation need to seriously examine the climate in which ideation takes place and put someone in charge of making the process better, more productive, and more innovative. Innovation-adept firms invest in ideation sessions, read books, attend seminars, and constantly seek to improve their skills.
As the world changes at a faster and faster pace, ideas and ways of operating that were adequate only yesterday no longer suffice. Given the torrid pace of change, the rapid commoditization of products, and the convergence of strategies, firms that rely on yesterday’s ideas, yesterday’s products, and yesterday’s assumptions are clearly vulnerable.
Organizations need a constant stream of new ideas if they are to create exciting and prosperous futures. Yet, in most organizations, there is resistance to change the approach to innovation lest it upset the status quo. Most companies today have allowed their methods of encouraging, nurturing, and acting on new ideas to languish while they focused on more immediate concerns, such as taking costs out of existing processes and products and services.
Yet because of the present economic climate, firms are increasingly willing to rethink their most central of processes: how they accomplish innovation.
If you would like to know more about how this topic, do join us at the H.E.R Virtual Summit as we bring Kate Petersil, Co-Founder of MeetPartners RU, who will be giving us more in depth insight on this.
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