Innovation always means dealing with the future. Innovation is not about generating sales and success with current activities. Rather, it is about laying the foundation for success in the future with today’s activities.
That’s why it’s helpful – and that’s probably a clear understatement – to get involved with the future and try to figure out what the future might look like. A magic crystal ball would be good for this. However, we do not have this magical instrument for predicting the future. What we do have, however, are development patterns that we can already see today and that we assume will exist in the longer term and cause relevant changes. Observing and analyzing these trends can provide valuable information for developing innovation ideas. You all know the usual megatrends from the media: aging society, climate change, and urbanization…
Get inspired by a trend for new innovation ideas.
- Identify a trend. Consider what trends you currently perceive in your environment? Don’t just focus on the megatrends. Also try to identify ‘smaller’ trends that you consider exciting and relevant.
- In doing so, also think about why this trend is occurring right now. What political, economic, social, technological, environmental, legal changes are enabling the trend or promoting it right now?
- Consider which basic human needs are affected by the changes brought on by this trend. In doing so, take a very broad view of the idea of basic needs. Social status, self-improvement, entertainment, social relationships, security, identity, social interaction, creativity, fairness, honesty, freedom, recognition, transparency, and so on can also be basic needs.
- What needs are now emerging in people as a result of the trend? What expectations, what longings are developing? These needs are important because they are the ones you should address with your innovation.
- For inspiration, take a look around at how other industries, companies, organizations even from completely different areas, deal with these new needs. Let it inspire you!
- What innovations are possible here? Consider whether you want to innovate a physical product, a service or a (business) process.
- Now you have done the groundwork. Now be creative and gather ideas on how you can help customers meet the need you have identified. Now you can collect innovation ideas.
This process is based on the structure of the Trend Canvas (Trendwatching 2019).
Please always remember that the evaluation of ideas always comes after the idea generation and is separate from it.
The first step in evaluating ideas is to separate good ideas from bad ideas. This means selecting from the large quantity of ideas generated by creativity techniques those that have the greatest potential for the company. The term ‘good idea’ therefore does not refer to a general characteristic of the idea, but always to the context in which this idea was generated. If an idea is likely to be able to contribute to the achievement of the company’s goals, then the idea is a good idea.
As a general rule, three dimensions must be included in the evaluation of ideas:
- Market. In the market dimension, it must be estimated whether there will be a market, whether the returns will be sufficient to cover the development and manufacturing costs.
- Technology. In the technical dimension, it must be clarified whether the idea is achievable from a technical point of view.
- The company. Here, it must be determined whether the company has the resources, knowledge and capacities required to implement this idea. It must also be clarified whether the idea fits the company and its strategy at all.
The market, technology and company dimensions are briefly described in the following section using the 7-C list.
Criteria for the evaluation of ideas
Here we briefly go into the criteria for evaluating innovation ideas with the help of the 7-C checklist. This summarizes seven dimensions important for innovation success in concise and easy-to-remember categories:
Here you can see a panel discussion that is not only about idea evaluation but also includes other exciting aspects of innovation management.