Monday, December 31, 2012

Innovation Arena – prerequisites: The maturity of an idea

Prerequisites and preparations so we can start with an innovation arena run are as following:
  1. We recommend that an idea exists about the maturity level of an idea or Innovation (see
  2. The existing ideas and potential innovations within our organization must be visible and transparent.
  3. We need to fill the arena with a crowd of experts
Let’s have a closer look into these prerequisites.

Maturity of an idea or potential innovation
You could ask: Why does the maturity matter?
Well, easy to answer: your company has a limited amount of money to invest into innovation. So your company power is limited to invest only in a small set of ideas. Statistics show that only one out of ten ideas really reach the state of a product to be sold on the market on once again only one out of ten products sold on the market gains sound profit.
Following the statistics, your company will be more successful on the market if it invests only in five to ten ideas out of a hundred. Additionally most of innovation budget shall go into the products that are just before market launch. That is the most critical time where speed is essential to win against competitors. That implies only a small budget shall go into the selection process that identifies the ninety to ninety-five ideas that are still on hold. And these ideas are on hold of different reasons: Vision is not clear, the market is not clear, the market is not awaiting the product, the company is unable the develop the product, whatever internal or external reason there are.
A simple understood maturity model for ideas is a good way to go. I recommend the “from stars to the road” maturity model by Markus Flückiger and Pete Jones. References are the blog entry by Markus and Pete about stars to the road, their presentation about the maturity levels (and the icons ready for download used for the different maturity levels).
The maturity model is simple. It works with the maturity levels star, cloud, tree and road

The idea is a first sparkling glitter. There is no chance to say if the idea could be developed into something concrete or we do not have any feedback if anybody has interest in that idea
We see contures and shapes. We are able to at least communcate a vision for that ideas; the most important features of that ideas and who the personas, the target market is that might have interest in that idea.
The idea is pretty concrete. We have a vision, we clearly see a potential target market, but there are still some issues and risks before we really are willing to invest a sound budget to develop that idea and turn it into an innovation. We could say we see already the apples hanging in the tree, but still they do not fall off.
No we got it on the road down under our feed. We are willing to invest and we will invest to develop that terrific new thing am make the innovation happen.

There is one important thing in your company I would like to remind of: Please do not establish a detailed and formalistic innovation maturity model with a huge set of criteria in your company. That will not work. That will kill creativity and visionary thinking. These maturity levels have to be defined in discussions, via communication and agreement by the involved persons.
I hope as well there are many of persons involved – more then just the managers of the company, but as well employees, clients, partner, friends or even people out of a cloud. Yes: one side result of the Innovation Arena is as well to agree about these maturity levels.
The second side result is: It shall be transparent and understood to every single one in your company what amount of resources (money, time, …) your company invests into an idea on a specific maturity level. And yes: you should set a limit for the number of ideas that hit the road as the next innovations of your company. Turning these ideas into innovations eats up resources. blog will discuss transparency of an idea....

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