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Prioritization – to get better at Innovation

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Generating ideas is the fun and easy part of innovation. The true challenge is prioritizing ideas which are desirable, feasible and viable – to increase the rewards from Innovation.

Having had a productive ideation session, the next step is to assess the opportunities and the risks associated with change. This includes prioritizing and culling ideas, adding clarity for the proposed new capabilities / products / services / processes, determining how to assess idea potential (ie: fail / scale fast), innovation monetization, updating corporate / product / service strategy as well as implementing marketing and sales initiatives, etc. In conjunction with this it’s important to recognize there will always be more ideas than resources to pursue them. Therefore, success hinges on the ability to correctly prioritize the greatest ideas, then allocate the proper resources with a balance of hard metrics, deductive analysis, and creative intuition as follows –

1. Prioritization Starts Before Ideation
The task of prioritizing ideas starts before there is a mountain of them. Further, it’s critical to focus and align interests on an innovation strategy early to help ensure the ideas created are relevant to the target audience and actionable for your organization.

2. Organize the Innovation Team
Business Innovation is a team sport that requires multidisciplinary collaboration for ideation, prioritizing, determining metrics, implementation, product / service evolution, etc. To innovate for impact, the team needs to create the prioritization criteria together – for a more balanced, holistic evaluation.
While a project may require its own unique criteria, three categories can neatly organize most any set of measures as follows –

Value to Consumers

• Appeal & Relevance : Is the idea appealing and does it answer an evident unmet need ?
• Ease of Use : To what degree is this idea easily used by consumers ?
• Anticipated Intent to Purchase : Do consumers anticipate or demonstrate an intent to purchase and adopt the idea ?

Value to the Business

• Revenue Potential : How large is the estimated addressable market and sales expectations ?
• Strategic Fit : Is the innovation aligned to the brand architecture and enterprise strategy ?
• Differentiated & Ownable : Does the idea create a competitive advantage that can be owned and defended by the brand ?

Ease to Implement

• Speed to Test & Launch : Can the idea be tested and delivered at scale within the agreed-upon timetable ?
• Affordability to Test & Launch : Can the idea be tested and delivered at scale with reasonable capital expenditure ?
• Technical & Operational Feasibility : Does the organization have access to the required technical and operational capabilities and partnerships to execute the idea at scale ?

3.  Review Collectively, Score Individually
Prior to scoring ideas, it is critical to aggregate all ideas in a common format. The Innovation Team then need to review the ideas and ensure the criteria are confirmed. Participants individually score each idea using the provided Prioritization Scorecard & Matrix so as to avoid groupthink.

4.  Apply Metrics – Map to the Matrix
Total the scores and tally them on the team-wide scorecard. The resulting scorecard will provide a visual expression of which ideas should be addressed “First, Next, Last and Never.”

While the Prioritization Matrix provides a prioritization recommendation, rigorous analysis should be balanced with intuition to guide teams through evaluating ideas using their best assumptions to augment debate and decision making. For example, at a recent prioritization session, a much-beloved idea found itself ranked near the bottom when formally evaluated. To avoid these awkward situations, it’s important to have a high awareness of Customer / Consumer need and/or a significant business opportunity, the anticipated capital required and time to launch, revenue potential, expected business advantages, etc. With a clear objective, the right criteria, internal and external expertise in innovation and facilitating change – you’ll come away with high-potential ideas and a process to identify those innovations that can meaningfully improve business outcomes.

Author : Nicholas Partridge is senior innovation director at LPK with a focus on creating “the new”: be it product, service, brand or experience. Nick is a veteran innovator, having partnered with the world’s most powerful brands and scrappy upstarts on their hairiest innovation challenges. Prior to joining LPK, he served as co-head of Idea Couture (NYC), as innovation director at Fahrenheit 212 (NYC) and as industrial designer at Essential (Boston).

Sept 19, 2017 – CAIL – Innovation Industry commentary

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