Recently, I was speaking with a corporate client about a challenge they were having with their innovation process.
They had just run an idea-generation challenge and received a decent number of responses from their employees about new innovations they could pursue.
The issue was that the company now had no idea which of the ideas should be taken forward.
There was only one person in the company in charge of the innovation initiatives, and they were already working at capacity. So being able to validate all of the potential ideas in an unbiased way was proving more or less impossible.
As a result, the senior leadership were becoming frustrated and stressed about how to communicate to the participants who had sent their ideas, or whether they should communicate at all.
They asked me about how to prioritise the ideas when there was not enough people to complete the work.
My response was simple:
You need to be very clear about the strategic success criteria your are looking for from all your innovation efforts.
Once you have agreed those success criteria, prioritising ideas and innovation projects becomes a lot more straightforward.
Many companies want to get ideas from people, but then afterwards realise that they have no idea what to do with those ideas.
This is why I always recommend that innovation teams agree on the criteria all ideas should be judged against, before trying to generate or collect the ideas.
These criteria should align with the company’s strategy, the expectations on the innovation team, and what the innovation managers believe is required from an overall innovation pipeline and portfolio of projects.
That way, all ideas can be judged impartially, since they are all being assessed against the same criteria.
Otherwise, if this standard set of criteria is missing, innovation teams can often struggle to compare completely different ideas with different potential value drivers, especially if there is not yet enough data to support rigorous analysis.
If you would like an example of what such a framework might look like, have a look at my Lean Innovation Validation & Execution (LIVE) framework, which outlines a set of questions that any ideas and projects can be judged against.
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