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Innovation Blog


Innovation Fertility

What is Your Company’s Innovation Fertility?

Collecting new ideas is table stakes in the innovation management domain. Without a fertile climate for innovation, more ideas simply lead to more wasted opportunities. It is the creative use of the collected data, not just the ideas themselves, which raises the game – which we refer to as ‘innovation fertility’.

There are many ways to use ideation and innovation initiatives to assess your organization’s innovation fertility. One sophisticated client created several idea challenges for incoming trainees and interns straight out of university. They posed a list of key problems in their industry and solicited ideas to address the issues.

Identifying systemic biases

Yes, this was a good way to understand the creative calibre of your new class of interns and perhaps aide in their placement, however it was not the only goal. In parallel, the company posed the same question to their internal employee base. The ultimate insight was to determine any gaps in creative reasoning between the new kids on the block and the old timers.

Leveraging Imaginatik’s semantic analysis tools, the client was able to discern specific areas of agreement and divergence. Were the old timers out of touch with new concepts? Did depth of experience still hold value as an innovative ingredient, or is disruption on the horizon? Is the mix of new and experienced innovators compatible?

Answers to these questions, enabled through off-label use of classic innovation techniques, provided key information to optimize the enterprise’s creative potential.

Mapping innovation’s ‘social graph’

Similarly, creative use of innovation tools can also yield powerful new insights into the inherent social networks of idea contributors. Recently we were asked to assist a major corporation in identifying world-class creative innovators for focused VIP recruiting.

One of these projects was a very high profile global innovation contest targeting universities and research teams in over 140 countries. We used analytics tools to identify rich sources of new ideas – far beyond just idea collection alone.

Assessing cultural tolerance for new thinking

A related approach was used to examine a client’s cultural tolerance for new thinking. A well-known, ‘mature’ industry client utilized the Imaginatik ‘head-to-head’ analytics tool to reveal a key cultural impediment to their innovation capabilities.

An algorithm-driven analysis of their idea review process showed that there was a distinct cultural bias against any idea that did not address cost. For our client, in a design intensive industry, it was a wake-up call that they were curtailing creative potential across the organization. The findings lead them to re-evaluate their mix of innovation projects as well as considering re-sequencing cost benefit analysis later in their stage gate process in order to ‘give more oxygen’ to the creative culture they need to compete.

Companies actively using innovation management techniques and tools need to be asking how they can gain insights from their ideation data. It is an invaluable window into the living, breathing enterprise culture of collaboration (or lack thereof).

How fertile is your company for growing innovation? The answers may be closer at hand than you think.

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