Igniting Innovation- Small Business Owners Facilitating Flow of New Ideas

Igniting innovation Digital Business Transformation Part 2

 

Editor’s note: this is part one of a two part article. Part 1:  Igniting Innovation- Digital Business Transformation

In part two I’ll cover: The Process, Meaningful Incentives and share a summary with takeaways.

The Process

There are four phases to the process: focus; ideation; ranking; and execution.

In the focus phase, a target area or areas are identified. Also defined is the expected level of gains to be achieved. For example, if it is a new product or service, small business owners could specify that revenues need to be able to exceed $500 million to be considered. Or if it is a productivity improvement, it needs to save at least $10 million to qualify.

The person with the suggestion may or may not be required to do the sizing. In either case the evaluation team will do its own sizing, at it will have better access to information and should be responsible for a cost/benefits analysis.

The innovation program must have an automated

The innovation program must have an automated entry and feedback process in place.

A best practice is to create a Web site and database for it. This will allow for time stamping of entries and a good tracking mechanism that will support the measurement and reporting metrics. It is quite important to have a time stamp capability, as there will likely be multiple similar suggestions and the only way to determine who submitted the idea first is with a time stamp. This will eliminate any suspicion of human arbitrariness and provide transparency.

As part of the submission process, the form or Web page should ask “killer” questions so that individuals think about the big picture. That is, force the individuals to examine the challenge or opportunity holistically. This will result in better, more comprehensive suggestions. RFG believes it is best to post all of the suggestions received. This can act as creative fodder for those desirous of making suggestions and can eliminate a number of potential duplicate entries.

The steering committee needs to rank the ideas to determine which ones will be acted upon. Submitters should know the ranking criteria. In addition to financial impact, small business owners should predefine the other criteria and weighting factors.

One company, for example, deems that in order for a concept to move into the prototype phase at least two of the following three questions must be answered positively:

  1. Does the idea fundamentally improve the overall customer experience or expectation?
  2. Does the idea fundamentally improve the company’s position in the marketplace?
  3. Does this fundamentally change the economic structure of the industry?

The execution may be in multiple phases. It may be necessary to do a rapid pilot or prototype to test out the concept. A small dedicated team should be in place to develop the test solution. The objective of the team should be to validate the idea as rapidly as possible. It is acceptable for the prototype to be a throwaway and not be the cheapest or optimum solution.

If an idea does prove to be valuable and gains approval for implementation into production, then small business owners that will have to adjust their operations to include the changes will need to buy into the concept’s implementation. As this can sometimes prove to be a stumbling block, it is useful for management to have the incentive program as part of their performance criteria.

Next page: Meaningful Incentives, Summary and takeaways