The past few days I’ve been trying out the new innovative Leap Motion controller. It’s a device that enables the you to manipulate the computer’s user interface with both hands, in 3D and without touch. There is a companion Leap Motion app store in which I recognize much of the creative experimentation that happened in Apple’s App Store in 2008 and onwards. I am now bringing this controller to some of our customers, to experiment and explore new solutions that may drive value to their respective market.
The key point of this post is not the Leap Motion controller. It could have been any new type of solution architecture including wearable technology, NFC based payments or connected micro objects. The key point is asking the question: “How do you identify potential innovation and how do you reduce the time from when you identified a potentially business relevant innovation to delivering it into the hands of your customers?”
In other words, “How do you gain true value from ideas that matter?”
The answer for your company could be to setup your own Innovation Lab. As we are engaged in setting up, facilitating and supporting Innovation Labs of several of our customers, I would like to share the top seven points relevant in succeeding with accelerating innovation through an Innovation Lab.
1. Charter and steering group – Make sure you clearly define the lab’s charter, goals and purpose, and get senior level executive support and make the Innovation Lab accountable in front of a relevant steering group with key business owners represented.
2. Process – Describe and communicate a basic innovation management process starting with inception and then all the way to setting up new pilot projects or the scope change in existing projects.
3. Representatives – Name the Innovation Lab Core Team, and aim for a handful of members with the responsibility to drive workshops, consolidate background information, invite speakers and industry movers and shakers, and interact with all of the company’s organization.
4. Workshop agenda – Keep a static basic structure for innovation workshops including a statement about its purpose, new market and sector trends, external speakers and contributors, demonstrations, prioritization and next steps. An Innovation workshop is the most efficient with 6-10 participants in a 4-6 hour workshop.
5. Workshop frequency – Plan innovation workshops to occur at least bi-monthly. That way keep the Innovation Lab Core Team active, on the hunt and in touch with trends.
6. Internal visibility – The most meaningful innovative ideas often come from places least expected. Make sure everyone in your company know where to turn with great ideas. Create a place on the intranet where everyone can submit ideas, vote, and discuss. Highlight the Innovation Lab Core Team here and make the team accountable for taking action on new ideas.
7. External visibility – Connect with your marketing and PR department, and make sure that you showcase at least one new innovation or idea every quarter. It doesn’t need to be a production level, globally deployed solution. It may be enough to demonstrate a prototype, publish a short Youtube-video on the topic, put the prototype in the hands of key customers… the list of things you can do drive branding and marketing value from your Innovation Lab is endless, just go external.
So, if you haven’t already, put together a team of innovation heroes and provide some structure and thought into your innovation process. The results will show quickly.