Process: Defining the steps in your innovation process

By Michael Watkins

Posted on

An innovation process is a set of steps between an idea’s conception and its implementation. It is a streamlined process that is managed in a way that reflects a company’s structure and innovation goals. 

A strong innovation process helps to optimise the identification, capture and curation of the best ideas and bring them to life. By following a process, and iterating and sharing feedback at every stage, you demonstrate to your entire team that innovation, and every single idea, matters.

A bespoke process should be carefully developed that suits your organisational structures and that accelerates the journey from ideas to impactful innovation. 

An example of the innovation process

When it comes to the innovation process, it’s never “one size fits all”. However, there are some standard steps and stages that typically apply to the majority of large organisations. Here we’ve outlined a  standard process that you can use as a blueprint for crafting your own. 

Step 1: Idea generation and collection 

It all starts with an idea and the best ideas can come from anyone in your team, at any time. So making sure everyone knows how to capture and store ideas is essential. 

Experience shows that researching and introducing dedicated idea management software is the simplest and most effective way to capture great ideas from your team. It provides a central location for storing ideas and actioning them in a transparent and efficient manner. 

Step 2: Idea review and evaluation

Ideas should be reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that they move quickly and that your ideators receive immediate feedback. You don’t want people to think that their ideas are going into a bottomless pit. Lack of feedback can demotivate them and discourage further participation in your innovation programme. 

Step 3: Proof-of-concept or a pilot

Ideas that are aligned with your strategic goals and have successfully passed through the evaluation stage can be further developed. If the idea creates a big change, it’s beneficial to run a small pilot, build its MVP or run a proof of concept before rolling it out to the whole organisation. Think of this stage as a rehearsal and also as a time to prepare your communication plan about upcoming changes. 

The key to a successful pilot stage is simple: feedback, feedback, feedback! Watch, listen and participate, and don’t just focus on the positives. This is your chance to significantly limit risk before going into full production.

However, if the idea is a quick win, it’s better to act fast and simply jump into the execution and implementation stage as it will keep the momentum going. During this stage, you’ll want to establish clear, measurable KPIs for a full rollout, so pay attention to the details.

Step 4: Full rollout and implementation

It’s time to roll the idea out to your whole company. Luckily, you should be feeling confident after a pilot, and all your stakeholders should be on board.

Remember to consider how this new idea is going to be integrated into your existing systems, and get help with producing clear training guides.

Step 5: Adoption and benefit realisation

When you’ve successfully implemented an idea, don’t forget to regularly review and check whether this news solution still solves the initial problem and whether it has been well adopted by the whole organisation. It’s also really important to keep collecting feedback. So continue tracking the success of your initiative against its initial KPIs and make a note of any lessons learned.

How to create and manage innovation processes using idea management software

Use Pipeline 

A fully customisable pipeline is your most valuable asset in managing your ideas and ensuring you have full visibility  about how ideas are progressing through each stage. 

Update Statuses 

You can update the status of each idea in your News Feed or directly in the Pipeline as soon as they progress further. This gives everyone in your organisation an overview of what’s happening with each idea and gives ideators confidence that their ideas actually matter. 

Provide feedback at every stage 

As you move ideas forward, provide feedback. Whether you’re discarding an idea for now or moving it straight to implementation, feedback for an idea owner is super important as it closes the feedback loop and encourages further ideation. 

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By Michael Watkins

Michael is Wazoku's Product and Brand Marketing lead. Away from the office, he's our resident film buff, so if you want some recommendations for a night in front of Netflix or a trip to your local cinema, get in touch with him!