Often the insight in innovation is choosing and developing the right ideas, not in coming up with them in the first place.
I have worked on innovation with many blue-chip companies such as Shell, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. Often, they’ll come asking for an idea, a solution, the ‘golden bullet’ that will solve a key business or technical issue. However I’ve been struck by how often the value in an innovation program is not the ideas that are generated, but the frameworks used to explore and classify the portfolio. Sometimes the solution is already there, ready to be drawn out from the shadows and built into a winner. Other times there is no right answer – but it turns out the question could be avoided. Or perhaps the internal team are already doing the right thing, but management needs to be convinced. Even if your program has come up with the right idea, it still needs to be identified and developed to a level where its value is evident. An army of ideas is no use if no-one can tell who has the loaded gun.