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Competitive intensity and business pace continue to increase across industries. The products that provide most of your company’s revenue today will not necessarily do so tomorrow. Companies that want to succeed need to generate an ongoing supply of fresh, high-potential ideas for growth.
From our experience, many companies benefit greatly from instituting a systematic, organized, coordinated and results-oriented effort to capture, analyze and classify compelling business ideas. This “ideation engine” as we call it does not have to be complex. In fact, the simpler and more straightforward, the better.
Companies that take this concept of ideation seriously turn in into not just in a source of valuable new business innovation but also a differentiated competitive advantage in the increasingly complex industries in which they operate.
Common characteristics of successful ideation programs
After reviewing the ideation practices at 11 companies including Nike, DuPont, Shell, P&G, BP and others we have identified four common characteristics they share. Their ideation engines:
- Connect to the marketplace and identify what is and will be relevant for customers.
- Allow experimentation. They support exploration, risk taking and a healthy tolerance for mistakes.
- Get the job done in terms of yielding potentially high-impact growth options. Their continuous quality output is supported by effective group functioning, world-class project management practices, operational discipline, top management commitment and bias for action and results.
- Capture both market-driven, planned innovation, where teams systematically identify and respond to a customer needs, as well as inspiration and initiative. They enjoy the balance of being structured enough to produce a continuous output of quality opportunities but open enough to capture unexpected nuances and team / individual creativity.