Innovation is like working out. A resolution that we have the best intentions to start and keep up with, and necessary to fit into the fast pace of today’s society. It’s also pretty life-changing once you get into the habit of it. But also complex enough that few know exactly what they’re doing.
Most of us are then left not-so-secretly knowing we should be hitting the (metaphorical) gym more often, and far more efficiently. Inevitably, we all look for that simple guidance to help us to reach our full potential — not that we’ll become all-stars and never fail again, but practice is the best path to improvement.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. It’s what’s happening with innovation in a lot of companies today. We’re here to help you kickstart your innovation track, guiding you through five exercises that will bring you up to speed.
Consider us your innovation process personal trainer.
Let’s get going
The hardest part of starting an innovation track within your company, like any exercise regimen, is to map what you already have, figure out a goal, and get your team aligned and motivated to reach that goal. Figuring out how ‘fit’ you already are plays an important role in your overall programme — you don’t want to do too little, but you also don’t want to push yourselves too hard towards burnout.
These exercises will help you figure out an answer to all of these questions, leaving you able to set the framework of your innovation track. Let’s not mince words — we all know this is never fixed and final. You’ll fine-tune it along the way, and you might find yourself doing this exercise several times. As we said — practicing is the best path, and no athlete ever broke a world record on their first day.
Like most trainers, we’re not going to hold your hand and walk you through these exercises — we want you to do the work!
But we are going to share some tips to make sure you’re moving through each one in the best way.
We have made you a set posters that will help!
Once you’ve downloaded your posters, use this next section as a guideline. We recommend using the following order:
- This is an easy exercise to start with, it’s a great warm up!
- You’ll probably want everything, but you have to pick three
- Make sure you also choose triggers that show why you’re absolutely not doing this — make it clear that those choices don’t play a part in your track
- Use dot voting to pick your top choices
- You probably already know ‘don’t you SWOT me!’
- Start by defining what it is that you will SWOT — your business as a whole, a product, or anything else you can think of
- Begin the the idea generation portion with the easier task of defining what you’re proud of and what should be done better
- Then, point your finger at the outsider — define what they’re good at and what you can leverage, replicate, emulate, buy…
Project ID Card
- Start by defining everything that is locked and will not be touched
- Next, define everything you want to figure out in the future
- List everything that could go wrong
- Finally, list your dreams
- Make sure you take a good, clear look at the personas listed
- This poster is pretty general — if you can’t find a persona that best fits your potential targets, use the two spaces at the bottom to create your own
- Feel free to use the grey text areas and lines beneath to write in other characteristics — we’ve already gotten you started, but be sure to fill in more information that fits your target group
- Try and be specific — these characteristics can greatly affect how the customer journey could evolve
- Use dot voting to pick your top choices
Here’s where you start to play with all of the information from your completed exercises. This one is more complex, so we’ve mapped it out a bit for you.
- Start by defining the steps of your journey — it’s important to see each step as a necessary part to make up the whole. These can differ greatly as each part of your business could have a separate customer journey.
- Next, try and map the emotions, both positive and negative, that your customer might have at each step in the journey.
- If your business is a gym, one of the steps may be ‘entering the gym’ — what positives and negative emotions could your customers experience? Uncomfortable because it’s always busy, or happy because it’s very clean?
- Try using an I-message like “I enjoy coming to this gym because it’s always clean and organised.”
Finally, move on to developing ideas for each step of the journey, and how you can tackle the issues your customer faces. Feel free to come up with different kinds of ideas — solutions to make the negative emotions disappear and the positive emotions increase!
- Use dot voting to pick your top ideas
- We know it’s work, but have fun!
- Try not to block your teammate’s opinions or creativity
- Invite everyone to be a part of these exercises, you never know what insight may be hiding within your colleagues
On a final note, we should repeat that innovation is not a one-and-done workout, nor is it something that should be done alone. It’s a habit that needs to be conditioned and continued in order to be a peak performer, with as many teammates as necessary. These exercises cover just the beginning, and we’ll continue to update you about the innovation process as a whole over the next few months.
Just remember — in order to reach the finish line, you have to pass start first.