Innovative Achievements

Stepwise Innovation

Innovation is a strategic goal of any company – large or small – that hopes to grow and succeed. But often, it’s the process of generating high quality, innovative ideas that can be the most challenging – not the act of accomplishing the innovation work. And with all of the different types of innovations (e.g., continuous improvement, disruptive technologies, complementary products, etc.) it can be overwhelming to come up new ideas that will drive the trajectory of your business. You need a process and a team that can consistently and reliably generate new innovative ideas that will funnel into your standard work and stage gate processes. Ideally, this idea generation process would be formulated with a wide scope so as to capture opportunities from multiple modes of innovation. Similar to Stuart Kauffman’s perspective that it is impossible to imagine that a sunflower can emerge from a soup of simple organic molecules, it is impossible to know from where and how your next great innovations will emerge.

Going into this week’s Stage Gate International Innovation Summit, we have been thinking a lot about how to develop an innovation idea funnel. We are excited to participate in the sessions, talk with other industry leaders, and reflect on new insights from industry best practices. Follow us on Twitter (@ShepChemical) as we post live insights captured from keynote speakers and new connections. Specifically we will be focusing on the below list of questions that we hope to learn more about at the summit.

We would be very interested to hear what additional key questions/insights intrigue you about the innovation process.

  • What processes do organizations use for coming up with innovation ideas?
  • What are the distinguishing features of different modes or kinds of innovation: disruptive, incremental, and complementary?
  • How do organizations integrate problem solving and product development efforts?
  • How much of successful innovation is organizational? Process? Team makeup?
  • What roles can customers and suppliers play in innovation?
  • What might successful innovation look like at a medium size company? How is it different at large companies? Small ones?
  • Are there forces we can harness like self-assembly and evolution to grow our own “sunflowers”?