The Innovation story—Inside Out

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The term “innovation” can be defined as something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into the market or society.”

How do you keep generating innovative ideas,   Do you have any tips for us?  This question occurred to one of my brightest team members amid the innovative idea generation huddle: the target was to track the idea generation, progress, and close with our goals of one idea per employee for the year.

We were 6 months into the year and we were at 0%.

The question that set me thinking, what actually is “Innovation” and what are the steps to generating innovative ideas?

I turned to Google to understand innovation. As per Wikipedia “Innovation is a new idea, or more-effective device or process. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.  This is accomplished through more-effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. The term “innovation” can be defined as something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into the market or society.”

Traditionally, we think innovation requires “thinking outside the box”. If I consider my product as the box, do I always need to think outside the box to innovate? After all, we all know it is difficult to “think outside the box” when most of our concerns are “within the box”.

1.        Think inside the box: Focus on the core. No product is perfect; can it do more, is the question to ask. Strategies for thinking inside the box may include:

a.      Addition

Add a new feature to your existing product to alleviate a customer pain point. It could be even improving the performance or quality of the product.

b.      Subtraction

Develop minimalist solutions that deliver higher value to customers.

Subtract out a feature to create good enough solution, which can be sold to emerging markets.

2.       Thinking outside the box: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them – Albert Einstein.  Thinking something that is radically different and disruptive e.g. Google glass and Tesla’s driverless cars.

3.       Thinking around the box:  Focus on what we can bring in, around our core. LEGO, instead of building a toy, they build plastic bricks that can snap into each other and create a system of play. Another example would be that of Microsoft office, instead of giving a Word or an Excel, it gives us a system of office suites.

Three months later, in the same innovation huddle meeting, we have a different story altogether. We have not only achieved our goal of one idea per person, but also have exceeded to 105 %.  75% of our ideas were generated by “thinking inside the box.

That was our innovation story inside out.  Our goals achieved thinking inside, outside, and around the box.

Do you have an innovation story to share?

Are there other ways that we can innovate?

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