Five Ways To Improve Innovation Results Immediately


Just why has the success rate with innovation reached such an all-time low? A Boston Consulting Group study showed that only 4.5% of innovations reach their ROI goals. Those are numbers that make it difficult to look to innovation to drive sales growth during this recession. No wonder so many companies are focusing on their “core” and delaying and cancelling innovation projects. Those companies that have figured out innovation and focus on it during this recession will come out stronger than most as we move into our recovery.

Why do companies continue to approach innovation in the same manner when they have had such disastrous results?  Is there anyone inside these companies that are asking the “big elephant in the room” questions that must be asked?

Five keys to improved innovation results:

1. First and foremost you must come to grips with your past innovation results. Use data to understand your true results versus your goal. Very often results from new products are just mixed into the core business results and the truth is never quite known. If you don’t understand the results you can’t learn.

2. As early as possible in the innovation process encourage the team to get a sales forecast for the new innovation. Your innovation may be attractive to a group of consumers/customers but it may not be close to meeting your sales requirements to launch into the marketplace. If you need a $40 million idea and you have a $10 million idea wouldn’t you want to know that as early as possible to take a different action?

3. Ensure that your team is working on dramatically different ideas that will provide a meaningfully unique new benefit to your customers. Too many companies are working on the same old thing as the next company but think they will succeed because of their brand and/or company strength. This is fools gold and don’t believe it. To do this the commercial side of your business must work closer with your technical capabilities – true innovation requires collaboration and team work in an interactive process.

4. One of the best ways to ensure that innovations that go forward are strong financial propositions is to ensure you have a TON of ideas to choose from in your innovation system. Too often there are too few ideas so managers compromise, protect and over-manage the innovation process to ensure their “project” goes to market. Even in the biggest companies bad ideas keep coming as overly confident managers push their ideas with such vengeance that most team members go along for the ride. You should always be adding new ideas to your system and as we call it at the Eureka!Ranch, play “king of the hill” with new ideas taking the place of smaller ideas in your innovation pipeline.

5.  Don’t launch a product or service just because you can or have the approval to go forward. Too often projects are given the green light in companies before a real validation or volumetric analysis has been completed. Too often companies are utilizing all of their innovation resources on small, niche ideas that won’t have a big impact on their business. Think bigger and reach higher prior to giving your team or yourself a green light to go to market.


Bruce Hall
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