New innovations are launched by companies worldwide almost daily. I have been wondering how many new innovations in design has for e.g. toothbrush evolved. What customers need is what customers get. However you can’t just ask them for what kind of toothbrush they would like to have, because they don’t know. Of course companies need to listen to their customers, but like Steve Jobs has said that it is hard to customers to tell what kind of products they would want Apple to produce because they have never seen anything remotely like it. When launching new products or service the timing is vital. Like Steve Jobs once has said also “you can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”. That’s why innovation should be foreseeing the future, while observing customers habits and needs and how they are evolving.
Very often companies start creating their new product or service when competitors are launching their own ones. Many times innovations facilitators are taking short-cuts in innovation process because they are anxious to come up with solutions for problems or to come up with new business plan. Hurrying kills innovative mind I think. You can’t force out new ideas. Coming up with new ideas for innovation takes sometimes time, but proper facilitation setting and methods can improve people’s ability to think creative way and yield out new ideas.
New ideas, fuel for innovation
I have been in many work-related innovative and idea generation session where manager don’t let the participants freely raise idea but instantly comments that the idea raised is non-feasible. What happens? Ideation is stopped for moment and further ideas are raised more self-critical monitoring. Quantity rules over quality when ideating. Why? Because ideas that are raised no matter how crazy they are they acts as a inhibitors to other ideas. This is why in innovation process proper mind-set is vital; mind should work like parachute, it functions only when open. When your mind is open for new ideas you are letting old ones go.
If you have a problem there is always a solution
Like Albert Einstein once quoted: “If you are doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results is insanity”. This applies in innovative thinking too. How often ideation takes places in that same meeting room where you have all the regular meetings? Also mind-set has to open-minded for new ideas. Our head are filled in all habits and customs that blogs out new ideas. Once you get rid of old ones, new ideas are likely to fill in. If you work in company that is not very innovative-dominant culture, this is vital to adopt this kind of mental set first. It starts from facilitation set-up and continues to every member’s motivation and mind-set.
Let your mind fly
Innovation process could devised into two separate sessions where between the sessions all the participants could cultivate his hers ideas on own and then on secondary session all the ideas are shared with all the participants. The benefit is improved ideation. You are most likely to innovate when you are not doing anything. Nowadays it is common that you try to rise new ideas while you are exercising something that doesn’t require you brains capacity. Multitasking kills innovative thinking. For example email is the best thing interrupting your creative work once it pops automatically on your mobile screen. For me running is the best way to discover a solution your given problem. This is controversially a managerial issue; how can your boss say to you that you should be thinking work issues on your free time, but it is the fact that most innovations are made outside office. For example Archimedes invented principle of floatation while taking a bath. Beethoven took long walks when he was composing music. The more you let your mind fly and wonder around the more innovative you’re.
Innovating is all about teamwork
You can raise ideas and make ideation on your own, but innovating is teamwork. When referring ideas with each other in brainstorming session such as Post It’s. Each member is posting tags on the paper in given time frame. When doing it simultaneously each member sees what others are thinking and it can be spin of new ideas. I was able to discover that very recently in my Service Innovation and Design MBA studies at Laurea. We had Design Thinking course where as course project we really had to think creatively and innovate feasible project. Lucky for as the course was facilitated by two design thinking professionals Dr Katja Tscimmel and Gijs Van Wulfen. Katja gave us good theoretical background for design thinking tools and then we executed the design project by FORTH-innovation model created by Van Wulfen. I must say that the model really worked. When project and its objectives were presented for us I thought that this is going to be mission impossible. I was wrong. In the design team we were able to raise enough ideas so we had enough fuel to carry out the innovation process according to this awesome FORTH innovation model.
After Post ‘it session Target tool most inspiring ideas are moved in the centre of bulls eye. In given time every member is allowed to move, put and remove tags. As a result most attractive ideas are in the centre and with those ideas are moved on in innovation process developing the ideas further. This is matter negotiating and finding consensus within the team of most feasible ideas to carry out rest of innovation process.
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement -C. S. Lewis
Innovating is like gambling. Woody Allen once quoted “If you are not failing every now and again, it’s sign you are not doing anything very innovative” If you ought to think out of the box and innovate with open minded, it is likely that this big idea is failure. According to Van Wulfen only one out of seven innovation project succeeds. In my opinion the risk limited only money spent for development. As a surplus you can observe and learn from every failure. This is valuable knowledge that can be utilised in next innovation process. I think companies should start celebrate failures instead of victories. Easier said than done?
Written by Jani Vauhkonen, 1st year SID student in Laurea MBA
Katja Tschimmel (2012) Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation” In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.
Gijs Van Wulfen (2013) The Innovation Expedition A Visual Toolkit to Start Innovation, BIS Publishers, Amsterdam