The process of generating new, low-risk, high-reward ideas, testing them for market viability, and then nurturing those ideas to life requires expertise. It’s a process. Treating innovation like a pet project and assembling a task force to deliver ideas to your desks is not how the process succeeds.
Design thinking is the core of many Innovation Labs — guided processes, and it’s a method we believe in. Depending on your objective, crowdsourcing, controlled trials and other methods can also be useful. The biggest difference between the bring-me-your-ideas approach and pursuing innovation through intentional methods is an end result of tangible action items, not just ideas. Real solutions. Solutions that solve real business problems, or better, that invent new, viable markets.
So how does the process begin? First and foremost, the pursuit requires that solid thinkers — your task force — are paired with outside subject-matter experts and a team that can objectively guide the process from start to finish.
The Model That Gets the Right (and Left) Brains Involved
Interdisciplinary teams are the secret sauce to innovation done right. Subject-matter experts in artificial intelligence, user experience design, or specialists in areas close to your objective, must be part of your innovation team, but they can’t be the whole team. While outside innovation partners can supply these missing minds, they also need your expertise infused into the process. Outsourcing innovation doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
To directly tap a company’s core expertise, we employ a Hybrid Innovation Model that blends company experts with experts in emerging technologies of interest.
The Hybrid Innovation Model creates efficiencies on all sides of the innovation equation, unlocking progressive thinking that already exists within your company — revealing innovation components you already have — in an arena where those ideas can be immediately put to use.
Without your help, outside Innovation partners can’t build success for you. And without objective guidance and a streamlined process, your employees will struggle to communicate existing ideas in a way that truly enables progress.
Interdisciplinary teams activated by the Hybrid Innovation Model are possibly the biggest differentiator between the intentional pursuit of Innovation and approaching Innovation more like a pet project or experiment inside your company.
During a recent Innovation Lab with Mars Petcare, the brand’s team was able to workshop ideas that previously had no platform or process for sharing. Before our process even started, we learned its head of packaging had a notebook of ideas she hadn’t been able to get off the ground inside the company. The head of Food R&D had the same, and both were able to share their thinking in an arena where their ideas were welcomed and built upon by our core Lab team.