A previous blog highlighted four common pitfalls when managing a major innovation initiative:
1. Having unclear objectives and plan
2. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach to innovation
3. Spending too much time looking inside instead of outside your business
4. Using the wrong innovation tools
This blog covers point number 3 in more detail: Spending too much time looking inside instead of outside your business.
Plan for 2-3 phases of research during the early stages of the innovation programme
When investigating new market areas, I’ve yet to see a team get all their answers from a single round of research. It never happens! Multiple loops of research and analysis are needed for getting the right level of market insight. For example, I was recently involved in a project with 3 phases of market research. Phase 1 focused on interviews with academics and subject-matter experts, followed by a Phase 2 round of interviews with industry specialists. The knowledge gained during Phases 1 and 2 equipped us with a good enough understanding to be able to test concepts with prospective customers and other stakeholders across the supply chain. My advice is therefore to factor in the time and budget for conducting 2-3 phases of research.
Use third parties to secure quick access to the right people in the target market
Don't underestimate how much time is wasted trying to get access to the right people through emailing, calling, etc. Tapping into your company’s internal network to identify warm leads can help, but the network will be somewhat limited when searching for leads outside your core markets i.e. you might only get access to 20% of your target contacts. A more efficient way is to use third parties to get quick access to the right people. Include these costs in your budget.
Allow time to translate customer issues into specific challenges you can solve
Apart from getting the market research right, another common pitfall occurs when trying to figure out how to solve customer issues with your technologies. For technology companies, this can take some time. Let me give you an example when I worked with an advanced materials company. Their market research had identified unmet needs linked to the transportation and storage of perishable fruit and vegetables. The team had a good understanding of the commercial drivers of the big food distributors and retailers, as well as the biological processes involved in the decay of fruit e.g. over-ripening, rot, etc. However, it took time for the company to figure out how it could apply its chemistry technologies to extend the lifetime of specific fruits and vegetables. The technology investigation stage can last from weeks to months, so make sure it is factored into the project plan. You can see a YouTube video about this project by clicking here.
Expand your reach with the use of Open Innovation tools
An Open Innovation platform is a powerful way of engaging wider groups of people in your innovation programme. It can be managed from a central location and is worth considering as a cost effective way of involving different groups of people. To learn more about open innovation click here to read our blog.
Other articles that may be of interest include:
- 10 recommendations when setting up a group-wide revenue growth programme
- How cross-business collaboration can enable bigger and better growth opportunities