10 Steps from idea generation to implementation

Every successfully implemented idea or product is a result of a long and painstakingly supervised innovation process. While principles and methods of idea development are universal for all industries, there is no strict rule regarding the steps from idea generation to implementation.

10 Steps from idea generation to implementationImage from Dilbert.com

Here is a list of 10 steps that follow the idea management process from idea generation to implementation.

1 – Idea selection

So you’ve noticed a good idea. Whether you have received an email to an inbox, a notification in your idea management system, or have opened a note from a suggestion box, everyone shares the same starting point – idea selection.

Just because someone has suggested an idea themselves, it does not mean that they are always the right person to see it through to completion. It is on you as an innovation leader to find a person with the right strengths, professional aspirations and experience to deliver this project in a meaningful way – innovation cannot be a secondary priority.

At this point, you also want to make sure that the person chosen to lead this idea will have some form of resources available to start making it happen. If you cannot delegate preliminary resources at this stage, you’re going to have major problems implementing this down the line.

There is no obligation for your selected idea to be a fully-fledged business case. At this stage, an idea is understood to be a hypothesis and might well be altered or changed later.

2 – Scrutiny of all aspects

Analytically evaluate all aspects of your potential opportunity like an investor. The larger the project, the more the idea’s ROI will be scrutinised. Key aspects of your overall assessment are:

  • The potential target audience you wish to reach
  • The potential value this idea or product could represent for your business
  • How much of a ‘risk’ does this represent (of course, what you define as a risk is up to you)
  • Market viability – does anyone actually want this?

While ROI doesn’t always reflect a financial value, it is important you are fully aware of the benefits and risks that follow with your project.

3 – Feedback

Collect opinions from people aware of the market, competitors, business model and similar business experience. Their practical expertise, and that of target customers, will help predict the likelihood of idea success. The real test is when the product is launched, but this preliminary research gives a hint.

Build a wide range of opinions – as wide as you can. This is essentially what you did in step 2, but shared outwardly. Find your community – whether that be your stakeholders, your employees or your customers.

4 – Feedback reaction

Make necessary changes to your product, strategy and business plan according to the feedback. Anticipate the needed capital to reach set targets. Design an implementation plan with the main objectives in the short term and who will execute them.

Just as important as receiving feedback is how you respond to it. At this stage it is important to understand the value of compromise over resilience. While a full-speed-ahead attitude is admirable, the nature of your idea at this stage is vulnerable to the biggest barriers to innovation – sign-off and funding.
At this stage, you will need to start thinking about sourcing the capital required to turn this idea into reality, as you will most likely be asking for funding, or at the very least, resources.

It is vital at this stage to take the feedback in and adapt to meet requirements. What matters most is getting a minimum viable working product / project off the ground, even if it’s not the fully-scoped idea you had in mind; there is plenty of time to reiterate and grow from here.

5 – A Basic Version / Product

Rather than setting yourself the overly ambitious goal of creating a finished product straight away, focus on simplifying and getting a bare minimum offering out there first. It’s important to keep development open to change and feedback, and by holding back until something is ‘just right’ you ensure that you gain minimal ranges of opinion – and are far more likely to be caught out.

A bare minimum offering shows target customers what the product is or will eventually be. A good idea is to build the basic product as quickly as possible, and to make it inexpensive – you have to present a low barrier for entry.

What often gets misconstrued – in the tech space especially – is that getting a product to market isn’t at all about working fast, cutting corners and doing an overall rushed job. You don’t need to drive yourself into a crazy rush just to get your product finished and out there. On the other end of the scale and maybe equally as damaging – you mustn’t scale back your ambitions to tiny projects just to ensure you don’t spend too much time. Both of these result in a sub-standard offering. The key is to start with your minimum viable product (MVP), get that right and functional and then build from there.

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