Firstly a very happy new year to all of our readers and followers here on Service Talk. I know for many organisations this is the time of year when they will look ahead and set out or refine their strategic or business plans for the year ahead.
An important part of the process is making sure your business is pointed towards the right goal. Ideas are an important part of that, ensuring that you have the right innovation process to both scan the market and harness the potential of new ideas into your organisation.
Let's consider how to get more ideas.
Get the environment right
Great ideas don't come to you in a vacuum. You and your team will need some way of thinking in creative or innovative ways. Structured customer experience programmes are one way but there are lots of others.
There are so many different idea generation methods that writing about them would be a blog in its own right. But as a quick exercise find yourself a partner and spend a focused ten minutes to come up with 40 ideas on a specific topic or problem. This might be something that your business is facing or it might be a bigger 'macro' issue or trend. Don't reject anything at this stage and don't constrain your thinking but what is possible for your business. There may be gold in these first ideas and you can always refine later.
Solve the problems of others
We feel that the easiest way to come up with ideas is to solve the problems you have in your business. But sometimes it can be hard to see outside of your own business constraints or challenges and perhaps the second best way to come up with ideas is to solve the problems of others. Start to focus on the world around you and your business. Many of the products and services you have become used to using and interacting with were invented to solve a problem. You can adopt that mindset too but you need to start to train yourself to spot it.
Unpack your frustrations
As you go about your daily tasks in the office and in working with your business colleagues (or even in your home life) try to get in the mindset of noticing the things that frustrate you and the challenges that you keep coming up against. In your organisation right now there are undoubtedly people who will have good insight into these challenges. Some of these may be things that have been a problem for a long time. They may have been attempted or changed and then failed. They may have been put off because they were too difficult. Get a team together, including some business experts and try to challenge your entrenched thinking.
Scan the future
It can be hard to get into the right mindset to think about the future in a meaningful way but why not think of solving problems that will exist, but don’t yet? Even if you don't feel there is a market yet, you may be able to create one by appealing to people who believe it will be a problem in the future. Ideas that save people money or make their lives easier will always be important. Perhaps there is a new technology approach or a new market trend that you can tap into to get a head start on your competitors?
Don't confuse ideas with innovation
Ideation is something you can build into the interactions you have with your team. Your next team meeting could start with a structured ideation session. You could focus on ideation during your next lunch break. The innovation process is different from ideation. Once you have the idea it can take time to refine the idea, seek feeedback from other people, gain the investment you might need to pilot and test and then scale it. You will need a lot of support, investment and maybe a bit of luck. The whole innovation process can take time and fledgling ideas fail at any point. That's why you need more ideas coming in at the front end of the process!
Foster idea collaboration
In your business right now, seek to create an atmosphere where creativity is welcomed. Make people feel like they can actually generate and progress an idea and be empowered to work with others to make it a reality. Networking with people inside and outside of the organisation will be vital and your networks and ideas can come from all areas and levels of your business. Of course you might need to put some structure around it so you capture the ideas in the right way and your teams still focus on their day job, but if you don't encourage ideas you are unlikely to get them!
Don't limit yourself too much
We see The most common is putting everything into an idea and never getting actual innovation. Businesses need to have some kind of process for translating those ideas into something that creates value.
They also fall prey to becoming insular by not exploring all the possible spaces open for innovation. They will only focus on improving their products, for example, when they could also be innovating their processes at the same time.
We can help you generate more ideas and make improvements in your business that can increase efficiency, revenue and customer experience. We can help you with ideation or with full structured innovation processes. Why not contact us to discuss further?