How to find and refine valuable ideas for your organization


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Innovation does not come out of nowhere; instead, it is born when independent thinking meets thoughtful collaboration during the brainstorming process. A good group brainstorming session can help you get started to the company, not only in this. It gives you the opportunity to examine how you can help your business run better, faster and at a lower cost than the competition.

Related: 4 ways market leaders are using innovation to drive business growth

Developing ideas is key to improving business operations, so you need to think about how to promote innovation in a team environment. Often when business leaders envision a brainstorming session, they imagine a room full of colleagues shouting out ideas and writing them down on a whiteboard. In these scenarios, typically the loudest are heard and the most popular ideas are accepted regardless of measured impact. The McKinsey authors recently wrote about a similar situation with a major US cosmetics company.

When it comes to workplace interactions, such as brainstorming sessions, employees often feel like they have to comply. According to a five-part model created by Paul Nail, Geoff MacDonald, and David Levy, people conform to avoid rejection and conflict, achieve group goals, or establish their own identity. In other words, why would anyone disagree with their boss if it put their own authority at risk? If you want to find and refine interesting ideas, you will have to adopt more productive brainstorming methods.

Rethink your brainstorming

To better identify opportunities for innovation (and avoid moving forward with an idea that could hurt your business), you need to start structuring your brainstorming sessions differently.

First, set a general topic and have your team start developing ideas individually on their own sticky notes. Then ask everyone to put their sticky notes on the board and briefly explain their thoughts. Try grouping similar ideas together to get a better idea of ​​which themes develop. Then allow the group to vote on the strongest ideas. If you can, vote using a digital option. Many interfaces mask voting results until all votes are received, which helps eliminate bias.

Just because an idea gets the most votes doesn’t mean it should be your company’s top priority. This is where an old-fashioned pros and cons list can come in handy. Ask everyone in the room what they think are the positives and challenges of the idea. This gives underrepresented departments the opportunity to voice concerns that the rest of the group might not have considered. These groups should have a voice throughout the idea evaluation process.

Apart from a list of pros and cons, a few other indicators can reveal if you have a good idea in your hands. For starters, if the idea has collective support within the teams throughout the initial voting process and ongoing dialogue, you likely have something impactful. Additionally, you need to consider the value-to-effort ratio. Ideas with a high value-to-effort ratio are more likely to survive the verification stages, while more complex initiatives will require more rigor to be verified. More importantly, does this idea align with your company’s core values? Consider the ways it gives you a competitive advantage. Does it spark excitement or does it feel alien to you?

Related: Brainstorm anywhere with this reusable swipe whiteboard

Evaluate, refine and implement ideas

Brainstorming can feel like a tidal wave of creativity, but evaluating and refining ideas from these sessions takes time. Use the following steps throughout the idea evaluation process to identify the best ones for your organization.

1. Define the innovation objective

Often when people think of innovation, their minds turn to developing new products using the latest technology. However, new products are only a small part of the full picture of innovation.

Instead of just thinking about your company’s next hot spot, consider the Ten Types of Innovation framework. This model explores three main areas of innovation in your business: configuration, offering, and experience. By considering each area and how your business could improve with better processes and tools, you can avoid the pitfalls of chasing new technologies.

2. Idea and inquiry

Not every idea is a golden ticket, so it is important to generate several concepts for possible innovation in the desired space. Moreover, you must refine these concepts and eventually study them with some rigor before making substantial investments.

Consider frameworks like the Innovation Funnel to create and filter ideas that inspire innovation. You can use the funnel to prioritize and evaluate the best ideas, reduce the total number of innovations, and create the funnel shape.

About 80% of projects are expected to die during the discovery phase. As you move further down the funnel, an additional 80% should die during the validation phase. This rule isn’t absolute, but it does keep your portfolio of ideas from getting bogged down with less-than-stellar innovations.

3. Test your ideas

Testing innovation ideas that are past the ideation stage can help you determine if they are worth pursuing. As you begin to describe the test, spend time identifying your key metrics so you know how to measure results.

Your test can take many forms depending on what you’re looking to validate, but the main goal is to build a lightweight way to test your assumptions. As a consumer, you are subject to this all the time, as A/B vendors test their web pages, advertisements, and even packaging.

When it comes to internal innovation, think about specific employees to whom you can deploy a new process before pursuing broader adoption or low-code ways to validate potential software deployments before investing time and effort. money in customized solutions.

Related: 3 Ways to Be Tech Innovative on a Budget

If you want your business to keep pushing towards a better model, promoting business innovation is essential. However, not all ideas will work for your business, and that’s okay. Learning how to brainstorm and evaluate business ideas will bring your business one step closer to achieving truly impactful innovation.


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