Are innovative ideas enough to innovate?

Innovation has became a key strategic goal for many companies and employees are being encouraged to come up with innovative ideas. But once an innovative idea is brought to the table, the company faces a challenge of not wasting its potential. How can organizations successfully develop innovative ideas?

1. Presentation: Make sure everybody is on the same page

Example: Anna has a brilliant idea for the company she works for. When she tells her team about the it everybody is enthusiastic. No questions are asked, so Anna is sure everything is clear. A couple days later a casual conversation reveals that each person in her team understood her idea in a slightly different way. Now some people are disappointed that this idea is not exactly what they hoped for. Anna schedules another meeting to present her idea again, but the team, including herself, is already a bit discouraged.

What happened? While Anna was sure her story was clear, all information gaps in her story were automatically filled with whatever suited each listerner’s brain best. As she never mentioned how the service would be operated, some people thought of it as of a mobile app and some other as of a website, which may have caused a different interpretation of user customer journey or development requirements. As no questions were asked, these different understandings have not been clarified right away.

How can this be avoided? Instead of talking about ideas, make them visual (no graphic skills needed!). Never underestimate the power of a simple visual. Try sketching a simple interface instead of telling the audience how it would work. ake people talk about your idea: ask them to come up with questions or to indicate your idea’s strengths and weaknesses.

Having an idea that meets the company’s need of being innovative does not necessarily mean that this idea is needed in the market or that customers will be eager to use it as it also meets their needs. How to manage your concept’s development?

2. Seek feedback outside the organization

When Mark has presented his concept of a new service, for everyone in the company it was clear this is exactly what the brand needed to become more innovative. The service was inspired by hottest trends: it was a mobile solution based on sharing economy, aimed at millennials. Everything was kept top secret until the service was 99% ready and the only thing missing was a logo. A focus group of 6 young people was invited to discuss three graphic concepts and help choose the best one. After product introduction the group started asking questions: some people did not find the service really useful and some believed it may have safety issues.

What happened? The company was so focused on innovation and so enthusiastic about the idea they forgot to check if the service would be useful for customers. The first feedback was obtained too late, when the product was almost ready.

How can this be avoided? At K2 Digital Ventures we don’t overrate our own judgements and always seek feedback from potential users. What to do? Prepare a simplest paper prototype of your service and show it to your customers. Ask if it meets their needs. Collect their concerns, improve the concept and seek feedback again.This will save time and money and prevent wasting effort on things that may look innovative, but would not satisfy your customers.


Zofia Smełkówna is a Digital Group Head in K2, a psychologist and a service designer.