Innovation success – tip #5

Don’t choose just a single idea to progress: run with multiple, different ideas to uncover the seed of the great concept lurking within.

The power of a design-led innovation process is that it allows you to quickly (and cheaply) explore multiple ideas in parallel. Sketches, prototypes, and the rapid iterative cycles in which they’re used, allow the team to cost-effectively explore many ideas at once.

Innovation projects often fail at the point of idea generation, because to senior managers, none of the ideas looks feasible. This sadly misses the point of disruptive innovation – that the team come up with something radically different. ‘Radically different’ and ‘looks familiar’ tend to be mutually-exclusive, and so a lot of potentially good ideas are shot down before they’re explored.

Early ideas are meant to challenge. They’re meant to push the boundaries of what we can do; or step well outside what we’re currently thinking and take on a whole new direction. That initial set of ideas, however, are also only starting points. Within each is a concept needing to be explored before it can be evaluated.

When it’s first conceived, a disruptive idea should not be open for evaluation. Give it some breathing space to be explored before consigning it to the scrapheap; and do the same to as many of your ideas as you can spare the time. Think about them for just a few minutes each before deciding on their merit.

Exploring multiple ideas early on will open up your thinking and provide you with much greater likelihood of success.