Ideas can range from specific solutions to specific issues right through to breakthroughs that have broad application and stand to revolutionize the way we view the world. While genius accounts for some of these breakthroughs, many are the result of structured interventions and robustly developed innovation processes.
There are many ideation approaches. A common approach is to use regular supplier days, others include working with third-party consultants, megatrend experts and scenario-planning workshops. However, the key is to embed whichever approaches are suitable to a specific situation into the overall SEI approach. One-off, ad-hoc ideation sessions aren’t necessarily the answer.
The ideation module of the methodology brings together a wide selection of approaches being used by companies. Not all will be appropriate, but the desired outcome is to have a systemic and embedded approach to idea generation.
Level 1: Opportunistic Innovation
The ideation process is operated on a project-by-project basis, the main focus being on developing and testing solutions to identified needs.
Level 2: Systemic Innovation
Ideation includes the development of know-how from across the organization to produce holistic solutions that cover both product/service innovation and the means by which they can be delivered.
Level 3: Interactive Innovation
Ideation has a clearly defined process that engages relevant stakeholders in a timely manner and continually tests the ideas and assumptions underpinning the development of solutions.
Level 4: Embedded Innovation
Partners in the wider network are able to learn from existing innovations, then use and combine them in a wide range of issues through the analysis, understanding and application of intellectual property and know-how.
The concept of ideation can generate a great deal of debate – there are those who see it as an exercise in vanity, where the number of ideas being generated is inversely proportional to the value they bring. Equally, however, without new ideas, new product pipelines can’t be generated.
Ideation, when used intelligently and systematically, is a crucial and energising component of the SEI process.