Market trends and consumer tastes change constantly, and there are more businesses than ever competing for customers’ attention. The only way to keep your business on top is to continually offer something that no one else can. With each new idea your company develops, your competitors will soon release their versions. The key to business success is constant innovation, always offering something new to keep customers engaged.
Companies need to do more than just respond to current trends; truly successful innovation predicts what customers want and need before they know it themselves. Most businesses are aware of this—according to Accenture, 96% of executives agreed that long-term success was driven by a constant stream of new ideas—but very few know how to manage it effectively.
The Innovation Process in 5 Steps
While some believe innovation is finding that “ah-ha” moment which results in a killer app and leads to enormous revenue, the truth is far from that. Innovation is a process and there is extensive research on the steps that lead to innovation. A study called Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice identified specific stages that help drive sustained and successful innovation programs.
What are the steps in the innovation process?
According to the Sloan Review at MIT, the five stages of the innovation process are idea generation and mobilization, experimentation, advocacy and screening, diffusion and implementation, and commercialization.
Before beginning the process, it is important to identify the problem that is being solved and then develop ideas to solve those problems. Beginning the process with problem framing and then design thinking.
1. IDEATE: Develop New Ideas
Innovation, by its very definition, is the creation of new ideas. These new ideas may be improvements on existing technologies, or entirely new products, services, or designs. This first stage may mean providing team members the time to brainstorm new ideas outside of their normal work duties.
2. EXPERIMENTATION: Experiment With the Idea
In the experimentation phase, a company produces a prototype or runs a pilot program to test the feasibility and sustainability of the proposed idea. Through ongoing experimentation, developers can continue to refine and perfect it or may put it aside until further technological advancement occurs. The experimentation process is generally multiple short iterative processes, where developers take time between experiments to reflect.
3. ADVOCACY: Evaluate the Ideas’ Potential
Not all ideas are feasible or offer a strong return on investment. Once an idea is put forward, it needs to undergo an advocacy and screening process. In this stage, team members work together to evaluate an idea’s potential and any difficulties that may arise. The advocacy and screening phase relies on dialogue. The idea can be modified in this stage to enhance the overall effectiveness and mitigate potential challenges. A decision can also be made to shelve the idea until a later date when either business models or technology can match the idea’s needs. Once an idea passes the evaluation stage, it’s time to start testing it in the real world.
4. IMPLEMENTATION: Implement the Idea
Diffusion refers to the company-wide acceptance of a new idea. Implementation is the process of actually producing a new product or putting a new idea into action. Diffusion needs to occur at all levels of the organization to ensure that the project has the resources for implementation. This is the point where investors, stakeholders, and other executives give the final go-ahead for the project.
5. COMMERCIALIZATION: Create Market Value
With a finalized working model, the business has to start considering how to market it. The commercialization stage focuses on the actual benefits of the new product or service, where and when it can be used, and how to persuade potential clients to be interested in purchasing it.
A CTO’s Role in the Innovation Process
A CTO manages the whole research and development process for new ideas, from the initial idea generation to the final implementation. It is important to establish clear-cut research procedures and channels for submitting ideas for review. There must also be well-established criteria for how ideas are evaluated and selected to move forward.
While there may be members of the team that have great ideas, they may not know how to advocate for themselves effectively during the evaluation process. As CTO, you may need to step in and help them refine their presentation. It’s important to know the status of every project and the results of each test to communicate results to stakeholders efficiently. This will speed up the diffusion and implementation process.
- Innovation provides fresh ideas and new products to help your business grow.
- Innovation works best when guided by formal processes, which very few companies already have in place.
- Successful innovation goes through 5 stages: idea generation, advocacy and screening, experimentation, commercialization, and diffusion and implementation.
- A formal process doesn’t mean slow or lack of results, innovation is expected to move through the steps quickly, enabling teams to fail fast and change direction or shelve the project.
- A CTO must guide and support new projects through every step of the process and enable teams to learn what works and what does not work, all without fear of recourse should failure occur.
Go Studio Innovation
Go Studio’s expertise is a valuable resource for companies seeking to refine their innovation process for specific projects. We use breakthrough technologies to help businesses achieve their full potential. Our technology solutions are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client and we work with businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to large companies. Go Studio has a team of experienced professionals who are passionate about technology and innovation, and they are dedicated to helping clients succeed. Schedule a tour today to learn more about how Go Studio can support your organization’s innovation process.