Euan Pallister: Well, it’s now 3:30. And so, warm welcome, and hello to everyone that’s joined today. Some really, really insightful information is going to come out of this event. So, make sure you have your notebooks at the ready. Just a very brief introduction to those of you who may be new here and are wondering who on earth we are. Innovolo is a company of people who will accelerate your new product development with a clear and accurate picture of the return on investment and the peace of mind that the new product and the budget will meet your unique requirements. If you have any questions about Innovolo, please feel free to reach out after this webinar.
Innovation isn’t a walk in the park, we all know that, and we want to help you. So, here’s a solution for you. New platforms such as Viima will seriously help you organize your ideas and facilitate taking these from mere ideas to actual innovation. So, what is Viima? Viima is the all in one innovation platform that helps every step of the way. We’re taking your ideas and making them a reality. Viima has made the journey effortless. So, you can focus on making more innovation happen in your business.
- So, you might be thinking, “Okay, but what can Viima do for me?” As a general overview, Viima can help you do 4 very powerful things when it comes to innovation.
- Viima lets you gather ideas from your employees, customers, stakeholders, ridding you of that area of doubt and uncertainty.
- Viima makes it very easy to refine and develop ideas together with your team.
- Viima helps you analyze your innovation process to find and eliminate the bottlenecks. They also provide you with tools for prioritizing the ideas and picking the right one to progress.
So, we’re partnered up with Viima today for this event, so many thanks to Viima for making that happen.
Speaking for us today, we have Jesse Nieminen from Viima to really help us to see the benefits of using this platform, what a company can gain from using a platform such as this. Just before I hand over to Jesse, please would do take a second to select an option from our opinion poll? It should pop up on the screen now. This way, we can make the event more tailored to you and your needs. We do realize everyone has busy schedules. So, we’re making a recording available to all post-event. However, I do urge you to stay on for the entire event if possible, because we have a few sweet giveaways, which I’m pretty sure you don’t want to miss out on. Okay, so without any further ado, Jesse, could you show us what this amazing platform is all about?
Jesse Nieminen: Sure, thanks, Euan. Let me get my screen up for you guys. I trust that’s showing correctly now. Alright. So, to kick off my part, we’ll first look at the big picture and talk about the factors that really drive innovation success. I’ll then follow that up by laying out the path towards making that actually happen. And we’ll then hand things over for Bradley to cover some of the practicalities of how to actually achieve that.
So, to begin, we really should point out the elephant in the room. As you mentioned, innovation is pretty damn hard. And in our 7-year history, we’ve had thousands of companies use our software, and we work closely with hundreds of them. And to be completely honest, some of them haven’t quite reached their innovation goals; surprise, surprise. But based on these experiences, we’ve been able to form a pretty good idea of what actually drives innovation success.
Now, this chart basically just puts together virtually all of the publicly available studies on corporate innovation performance. We won’t go into detail on these today, but I just wanted to show you this to kind of like point out that there are obviously a lot of ways to go wrong with innovation. But as long as you get the one thing that matters, that really matters, right, most of these things will essentially solve themselves. So, that’s what we’ll be focusing on first. And that’s probably easiest explained with that brief example.
Now, Tesla’s probably the most innovative and at least the most hyped company out there today. So, we’ll use them as an example to illustrate the points. What most people get wrong about innovation in general is that they think that it’s all about implementing this like one big new breakthrough innovation that will change the world. And that’s very much the case with Tesla too. Many people think that their cars are so great because they’ve made some kind of a battery or electric motor breakthrough. And we’ll actually probably hear more about this topic later today on their Battery Investor Day event. But at least so far, that hasn’t really been the case. Many things that they’re so great because they’re the first truly connected car that is able to update itself via the internet. Some believe and invest in the company because they’re a front runner in full-self driving technology, which could be a huge thing in the future. Some are perhaps super excited about the solar roof, which will be comparable in price to installing just a regular roof, but it will also fulfill their energy needs.
Now, none of these arguments is necessarily wrong, but they’re all missing the real point. What really makes the difference is their pace of innovation, or to be more concrete, the speed at which they keep making improvements in every area of what they’re doing. What you see in this picture is one small part of the heating and cooling system in their latest car, the Model Y that was launched earlier this year. And it’s a great example to showcase this point. An analyst called Sandy Munroe got his hands on 2 different versions of this piece that were manufactured like a few months from one another. And he noticed that there were actually 13 different design changes in just this piece alone. And just to put that into perspective, that is a lot of changes to make when you consider that it’s a product they’ve already launched and are mass manufacturing, and that they actually have to adjust their production lines for each and every one of these changes they decided to make. Most other automakers won’t usually make any changes that occur between model years. And as Mr. Monroe pointed out, in this video, he struggled to get one change true in a year when he was working for one of the big traditional car companies.
So, to kind of like oversimplify things a bit, you could argue that, in this case, Tesla is moving 50 times faster than their main competitors. And, of course, none of these small changes is obviously hugely important by themselves. But when you add a lot of them on top of one another, the changes compound, and that’s when you quickly get a tremendous competitive advantage across many different areas in whatever it is that you do. And I know this is just one anecdotal example. But we’ve seen the same thing really occur over and over among our customers as well as. The ones that are able to move quickly and make the improvements one after the other are the ones that really succeed in innovation, and as a result with their business goals as well.
So, how do you get there? Oh, that’s what we’ll look into for basically the rest of today’s session. The good thing is that it isn’t rocket science. This is a simple example of an ideation or innovation process, which is often represented with a funnel that looks something like this. In essence, it works just like a similar sales or marketing funnel would. You essentially put in ideas from one end, then there are a number of steps in the middle. And eventually, you’ll get innovations out from the other end. Now, depending on the kind of business you’re in and the kind of innovations you’re looking for, the exact steps in the middle, obviously differ quite a bit. If you’re making incremental improvements to like a customer service process or something similar, those are very easy and straightforward to implement. But if you’re building totally new kinds of medical equipment, then the process will be quite a bit more complicated.
Today, we’ll be focusing on the things that matter regardless of the kind of innovations that you’re looking for. As mentioned, the first and the most important thing you can do is to try to minimize the cycle time or the time that it takes for an idea to get through basically the entire process here. When you do that, you will, of course, deliver the tangible value that the idea can deliver, and you’ll do that quickly. But you also learn much more in the same amount of time, since you’re able to make more changes, and consequentially, you’ll also burn less money, since a huge part of the costs, like people’s salaries, are usually tied to calendar time, you know, in a lot of different businesses.
And the second thing you really must do is to maximize the throughput in each of the stages of your process. So, essentially, the more ideas you can collect, the more things you could try to innovate on. And the more of those you develop into solid concepts, the more of them are worth implementing. And the more you implement them, the more value you’ll essentially get as a bit of a simplification again.
So, before I hand things over to Bradley, I’ll briefly cover the front end of that funnel, which in practice, means the key things to keep in mind when you’re looking to come up with lots of useful ideas. In general, there are 3 major factors affecting your ability to generate these ideas. And these are the tools and the processes you use, your leadership, and then your culture.
If we first look at the tools and processes part of things, the thing here is that you can just hope that some of these ideas, or you can’t just hope that some of these ideas would come up from in the watercooler conversations, of which there are obviously quite a bit fewer these days. You can’t really just tell that they will turn into something tangible. You have to have a systematic process in place for collecting and managing these ideas. And that’s really like the first step that Bradley will also get into a bit later. But then, you should also have easy-to-use tools that everyone in your company can access, use to submit their ideas. And of course, if you don’t yet have a tool in place for that, Viima is a great tool for the job, and you can start using it completely for free.
And finally, to highlight the importance of speed, I again want to remind you that it’s important for you to be able to make those decisions quickly, and actually have the ability to implement them. And the last point there is especially important because if you don’t do anything for the ideas that you asked from people, they lose interest pretty much right away. But if on the other hand, people see that you are actually implementing their ideas, and that they are being taken seriously and they can actually make a difference with their ideas, well, there really isn’t a much more powerful motivational factor out there.
Then, if we move on to leadership and communication, the first thing you should do is to focus on asking for ideas on things that matter, or in other words, those issues that are strategically important for you. So, if like, at the moment, the most important thing for your company is to save money so you’ll be able to get by during the pandemic, well, then you can ask your employees to come up with ideas on how you could do just that, and not have the furlough or lay them off. And if the most important thing is to come up with new business ideas, then ask for those. You probably get the gist.
The second thing is that you should always be clear on why it is so important for the company to innovate, and what it is that you expect from your employees on that front. And they’ll be much more likely to actually do so. Plus, if you can tell your employees why it’s also in their best personal interest to participate this, again, really helps you get more quality ideas.
And as final part regarding the communication, as with anything corporate-communication related, you have to be prepared to repeat the message over and over and over. And when you think you possibly can’t repeat it again, it’s likely that your audience is just starting to understand and remember the things that you want them to get. So, keep that in mind.
And finally, if we move on to the culture, this is probably the most nebulous of these factors, because there are very tangible things that you can do on this front to encourage idea generation. And the first point here is that every employee should really feel like it is their job to try and help the company innovate. It doesn’t matter if those innovations are small, very minor incremental improvements, or bigger, more disruptive ones, the point is that, if you get everyone to do their part, you will essentially be golden on this regard. The way you get there is by making ideation and innovation simply business as usual. So, it’s not something that’s out of the ordinary, but something that just happens every day. And that happens when you just repeat these practices that we’re now been talking about, and reinforce the message with public recognition and rewards for those who succeed and for those who try the hardest on this front.
And as my final point, I really want to highlight that it’s important that you make all of this a positive experience for your employees. So, you should try to make the whole thing fun. And even in times like this when you might not all be in the same place at the same time, you can still do that with things like virtual idea challenges that people can take part in and enjoy together. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have fun software like Viima for that part as well. So, with that, I’ll now be handing it over to Bradley who will help you with the hard part of actually making those ideas happen.
Bradley Pallister: Thanks, Jesse, appreciate that. So, I’ll just get my slide deck up here, this. But it’s not all about the ideas, is it, Jesse? I think is, you know, what we got to bear in mind is, you know, we’ve got all these ideas coming in, how about the execution of them? How about actually making sure that they don’t just stay an idea, a concept, but actually move forward and develop so that we can actually make money from that idea?
You know, we often hear from investors that, you know, this great idea is, it’s really necessary for them to invest, but it’s not sufficient enough for them to invest in. You know, ideas without the execution, they’re worthless. And really, the most important team, I think, is to do have a team, a proven team that has the relevant experience with the execution part of the process. I’ve not talked too much about the importance of the process so far, apart from the Innovation Value Pyramid that we spoke about in our recent webinar with Mark Wardell. Yes, business owners need to follow a disciplined execution process, they need to do that if they want to maximize their probability of success, and ultimately, to build a truly valuable business for their shareholders.
So, I don’t know if this resonates with anyone. But how many of you in the audience today can recognize this? You know, you get an idea come in, is it good or bad? Don’t know? Put it to a committee. It bounces around. You work on it. It makes it worse, sometimes it makes you better. You overthink it. Ultimately, you just give up. And, you know, how many times you come up with all these ideas, and they just kind of fall out the bottom and go nowhere? I’m sure the majority of the audience can kind of relate to that, where ideas just don’t go anywhere.
And as business owners and leaders, you know, we have ideas coming at us from every which direction, you know, from customers, from your salespeople, from our suppliers, from competitors. When we have a shower, you know, those shower thoughts, those kinds of moments of epiphany, which sort of just suddenly appear that “Hey, yes, that’s a brilliant way to solve that issue,” or whatever. But how do you know what ideas are good? How do you know what ideas are bad? How do you know what ideas are going to make me money? What ideas are going to help your business create sustainable growth? There’s one thing for it, you must prioritize.
So, today, we’re going to whizz through some – there’s a lot out there, but – we’re going to whiz through just a few select techniques and models that we use to make sure that you’re prioritizing the right stuff when it comes to innovation and new product development. Because it’s not all about the idea, is it? Because an idea without execution is worthless. But if you see here, you know, you mash the idea together with execution, and what have you got? You’ve got business. You can see the difference here. And this is what it’s all about. It’s not just all about generating ideas. Sure, you’ve got to do that. You know, if you’ve got no ideas coming in, you’ve got nothing to execute. But it’s all about prioritizing the right ones, the right ideas, the good ones, and then, more importantly, the execution of those good ideas. That’s what will make you money sustainably.
Of course, the execution of ideas is not without risk. Developing a concept, you know, through the idea process into reality is, for many business owners, a jump into the unknown. It’s a big leap of faith. You don’t know what’s ahead. Sure, there are challenges ahead. Will there be failure? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? The execution phase is not always a comfortable place to be. It involves a laser focus, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make a good idea well executed. And there are the risks of running an innovation program in your business. But as we all know, especially right now with all this pandemic, it is a case of innovating or die. We’re going to be going over 10 key steps that can be applied in any business to ensure that the ideas are prioritized correctly each and every time.
But just before I jump into that, I just want to set out the kind of 5 key principles of a successful innovation program. So, if you’re thinking about putting into place an innovation budget for your business, or rolling out an innovation program within your business, just bear in mind these 5 key principles.
1. Innovation Must Be Approached as a Discipline
Number 1, innovation must be approached as a discipline. You must distinguish it from between kind of creativity and coming up with the ideas. And innovation is bringing them to the top, and really looking at the bottom-line results to the business.
2. Innovation Must Be Approached Comprehensively
Number 2, it’s got to be approached comprehensively. Innovation can’t be kind of confined to one department or elite group of star performers. It can’t be assigned to the kind of skunkworks or innovation lab, which is detached from the main organization. And it must permeate every aspect of the company. It must encompass new products. It must encompass new services, new processes, strategies, business models, distribution channels, markets. There are so many different areas that innovation must encompass to be successful. It really must become part of the DNA of the entire organization’s ecosystem.
3. Innovation Must include an Organised, Systemic, and Continued Search for New Opportunities
So, that brings us on to point number 3 innovation must include an organized, systematic, and continual search for new opportunities. I just want to share a quick story about this one. Back in the early 1990s, AT&T, which is a telecoms company in the US, its top brass allowed a small department to call itself the Opportunity Discovery Department or ODD. This band of Maverick thinkers gave itself the task of shaking up the giant company’s thinking. And in one day in 1995, some of the guys from the department went round with pick sandwich boards, which said, “What if long-distance calls were free?” Now, back in the 1990s, long-distance calls were extremely expensive. And there, these guys were saying, “What about if they were free?” Now, that idea, that question was dismissed as ridiculous, it was dismissed as completely irrelevant at the time. And then five years later in the year 2000, AT&T’s long-distance, the revenue they were getting from the long-distance calls was declining so rapidly that they looked to sell that arm off at a cut-throat price. Now, the point behind that little story is, today’s seemingly irrelevant question could very quickly become tomorrow’s threat or opportunity.
4. Innovation Must Involve Everyone in the Organisation
That brings us on to principle number 4, innovation must involve everyone in the organization. In a lot of organizations today, new ideas are always directed from the top-down rather than from the bottom up. Now, I don’t want to spend too much time on this. We’re going to be looking at this in more depth in a future webinar. So, look out for that. But just have a think about where your ideas are really being pushed from. Are they being pushed from management and the boss because the idea is from the boss is always has the best idea? Maybe, maybe not. Just be aware of the “boss bias”.
5. Innovation Must be Customer-Centred
And then principle 5, innovation has got to be customer-centered. You know, innovation adapts, firms, live and breathe the customer. They know that the customer is fickle. They know that it’s kind of very difficult to predict. But they don’t stop. They don’t let that stop them from trying. But they know that creating value for that customer is the only route to success. So, that really means inviting the voice of the customer to permeate the design and implementation of new ideas and concepts, if those ideas are ultimately going to drive growth for the business. So, that was the five innovation principles.
Now, just to go over the 10 key steps, these were kind of set out by a guy called John Spence in his book called ‘Awesomely Simple’. And in his book, John speaks about larger organizations predominantly. However, his concepts or, the 10 key steps, adapt equally well to a startup or an SME looking to create an innovation program. So, again, we’ll be looking at these 10 key steps in more detail in some follow-up sessions. But if anyone wants to hear more about these in the meantime, please reach out to me. We won’t, we’re fairly pushed for time, so we won’t go into them all now. But essentially, you need to create a vision. And that needs to come from the company’s leadership. You need to create a vision for this innovation program. And you need to really instill the values. You need to define an outcome-focused strategy. We’re not creating and executing on ideas just for the sake of doing it. There’s got to be tangible outcomes. You know, “What’s the ROI for this? What return am I going to get for executing on this idea?” We need to get stakeholder commitment. And that could be your employees. It could be your fellow directors. It could even be your competitors, your suppliers. Get them engaged and committed.
And then more importantly, make sure your leadership team are 100% aligned. Guys, I can’t really stress the importance of this. You know, directors in a company may have different points of view, and they may well all be valid. But what’s the objective of this innovation program? It’s got to be one vision, one objective, one decent ROI. So, every process needs a system, as Jesse was talking about. And we’ll show you a few different frameworks that we use shortly. But managing priorities and targets, you know, I’ll show a little graphic in a minute how a lot of ideas naturally will just fall to the ground and disappear. But I think the point here is, you know, some of those really shiny ideas, those really sparkly ones, are they the best ideas? Maybe, maybe not. We need to make sure that every idea is aligned with that vision. So, managing priorities and targets really, really important if you’re going to achieve the objective that you’re aligned with.
You need to provide support for your team. Support all the stakeholders to really gain momentum in generating all these ideas that Jesse’s talking about. And then you need to rally the troops, if you like, to make sure that you can execute it on them effectively.
And this brings on to point number 8, it’s really like, I’m not into music at all, but it’s really like a conductor, you know, with the orchestra out in front. You’ve got your drums over there, you’ve got your violin, you’ve got your cello, you’ve got your little triangle, whatever. All these different sounds, all these different times, it’s all got to merge into one towards one key vision. The point here is, as leaders and business owners, we need to really bring all those tasks and actions together and orchestrate them to ensure that your innovation program is making the right music.
You need to measure, adapt, and innovate. And that may be actually innovating, on your innovation program, how you’re doing things. You need to measure, you know, are you actually achieving what you set out to achieve? You need to measure it. We’ll be, not in this program today, but in a future one, we’ll be going over some of the kind of key or key performance indicators, KPIs, that you can use in many different innovation programs.
But then, reward and punish. I’ve got two minds about including this one. And while I agree with the first one, I’m not too sure about the punishment. Personally, I love rewarding people for doing well. And I personally believe that that will bring its own benefits. But you need to look at who’s bringing the dinner to the table, should we say, and reward them accordingly.
So, this is a bit of a take on Jesse’s idea funnel that he showed us earlier. And the point here is, say this is a kind of 18-month program. Everyone’s familiar with a sales funnel concept, I guess, but the idea funnel is the same kind of thing. So, at the top of the funnel, or on this one to the left of this horizontal funnel, say you’ve got 750 new ideas to come in that year. Well, as you move through the funnel, as you develop those ideas and prioritize them according to your objectives and vision, and then you try them out and you prototype them and you experiment with them, when you actually get through to actually implementing those ideas and to a stage where you can actually commercialize them, you’ve probably dropped right away down to say, two ideas. So, you’ll probably actually commercialize two out of 750 ideas. That’s about 0.2% roughly if my math serves me right. So, you can see the importance of following Jesse’s points earlier, and the need for a real big volume of ideas.
So, how do you know which ideas to do first? Well, this PICK Chart here was developed originally by Lockheed Martin. And it’s a kind of visual tool for kind of depicting and organizing ideas about possible options on a process-improvement project. But it can be used for a number of different innovation initiatives. So, the picture has got four quadrants. You’ve got possible, you’ve got implement, challenge, and kill, hence pick. So, once you’ve had a brainstorming session, once you’ve got a whole bank of sticky notes or whatever, you’ve got a whole bank of different ideas, think of this a bit like pinning the tail on the donkey kind of exercise, but with a bit more science behind it.
So, the picture uses a large grid two squares high, two squares across. The vertical axis is the scale of payoff or kind of benefits, “What was the return? What’s the return on investment?” And then along the bottom there is you’ve got the difficulty or you say ease of implementation. So, once you’ve plotted all your ideas out there, it’s then a very simple exercise to obviously start with the implement quadrant. You then, depending on what your resources are like, you might want to do the challenge ones or the possible. The kill ones, forget them, don’t worry about it. So, that was a picture very, very quickly. I trust that makes sense.
The RICE tool or RICE formula was developed by the messaging software maker, Intercom. They developed this RICE roadmap prioritization model to improve its own internal decision-making processes. And although the company’s product team knew about and had used many other prioritization models for their product managers, they really struggled to find a method that worked for them. You know, Intercom had a unique set of competing project ideas and how that happens in all our businesses. So, to address this kind of challenge, the Intercom team developed his own scoring model based on 4 factors, which is the reach. So, that is, you know, how many people, or how far is this new idea or innovation going to impact? What is that impact going to be? You know, what’s the ROI? Or what’s the social benefit from this idea? And then how confident are we that we’re going to get that reach? And how confident are we going to get that impact? So, you times those three factors, and then you divide it by the amount of effort. That is a very, very simple but effective tool.
And basically, what happens is, say we’ve got those 750 ideas, what you do is you get an Excel spreadsheet and you list out all those ideas on one column. And then the next column, you’ve got the reach, the next column impact, confidence, and then effort. And then the final column is your score. And then all you do, calculate it up and you sort it by the score. And that is the way you move through those ideas. And I noticed there’s a number of people commenting on the chatbox there about how they like the RICE model. So, thanks for that. It is something that does work extremely, extremely well.
So, the MoSCoW method is another method. And this is really probably a little bit further down that funnel once you’ve got an idea. Let’s say you’ve got a new product idea. So, you want to take this product to market and it’s got 12 different features to it. Well, you know, you’ve got a deadline to get this product out, can you get all those features in? Can you get it all packed in? And you got the money to get all those features in? Maybe not. You need to prioritize. And the MoSCoW method is great for doing that because it really splits it down into the Mo, and that is must-have requirements. Those are non-negotiable. It’s got to have those features are, you know, as you can see quite clearly on the screen there.
The next quadrant is the S or should-have quadrant. And these type of requirements or features are almost as important as a must-have, but it’s not vital to the success of the project or a new idea. In other words, this project doesn’t depend on this requirement, but you might not want to leave it out. So, it’s sort of a little bit down the priority.
Co is the could-have requirements. So, this is the difference between should-have and a could-have requirement is simply by figuring out the kind of degree of pain that would be caused by not meeting it. So, it’s desirable, sure, but is it important? No. And only do it if you’ve got time and you’ve got budget and you’ve got resources to do it.
The last quadrant probably speaks for itself, but what we will not have this time or what we won’t have at all, it’s our budget, we haven’t got time to do it, or this feature just doesn’t really link with this product. And similar to the PICK chart, and basically how this works is you just mark this up on a whiteboard or on a digital board like a MIRO board or something like that, the four quadrants. And again, pin those stickies into the four different quadrants. Really, really quick, simple, no science to it, and really, really effective.
Value vs. Cost or Value vs. Complexity
Sorry, we have an issue there. So, this here, looks maybe a bit more scientific, hopefully self-explanatory. It’s a bit like the picture we saw earlier, and you’ve got two axes, value, and cost. And, again, all you need to do, grab those ideas on sticky notes, plot them out, you know, this is not rocket science. There’s nothing complicated about this at all. And you don’t need to be totally accurate. This is real gut-feeling stuff, stick them up there. Once you’ve plotted the ideas out, you need to then start actioning on those ideas, execute them. And how do you do that, you follow the direction of the blue arrow. Top value, lowest cost, and move down towards the lowest value and highest cost, simple. And the slight variation on that is obviously changing the cost, they’re there for complexity, which essentially means the same thing.
So, obviously, this really brings us into a bit of a full circle to what Jessie was talking about. And here is a screenshot from the Viima tool. Now, there are many, many different ways of prioritizing your ideas. We can’t cover all these methods in this webinar. You know, there’s no real quick way to do that. And the only way to do it is kind of drip-feed it, I guess. But this is what we’ve partnered up with Viima for. And this here is the automated idea scoring and prioritization. It’s extremely, extremely versatile, extremely customizable. And the point I want to make is the principles of all the various different methods and frameworks that I’ve been just speaking about and a lot more sites can all be used within Viima. Yes, sure, they look different, but the principles are all the same. They can all be used within Viima.
And this is something that we use here internally at Innovolo. And believe me, we get a lot of ideas every single day, from our clients. And our staff are a wonderful bunch of… I was about to say light bulbs, but you know, there are ideas that keep coming in. And we needed a way of prioritizing it. This is a great way of doing it. I really thoroughly recommend it. And in fact, due to COVID, Viima are actually offering the platform free for unlimited users. I think Bronwynne just put the link on the chatbox there. I would thoroughly, thoroughly recommend that all attendees today just hit that box, try it out. I know you’ll like it. And just share with us how you get on, you will definitely, definitely like it.
So, we’re nearly wrapped up now, but I just wanted to go over just the last couple of frameworks, which are, I think, very, very important. You know, how… how sustainable is your idea or concept? What makes it special? How close are your competitors to overtaking it? You know, too many companies that we’ve come across can’t answer questions like this. And they simply believe that hard work, elbow grease, blood, sweat, and tears will guarantee success. Not so. You know as COVID has shown us, how sustainable your idea? It’s a question you really do need to ask yourself. And the VRIO framework is a really strategic analysis tool, originally designed to help organizations uncover and protect the resources and capabilities that give them a long-term competitive advantage. It uncovers sustained competitive advantage.
So, as you can see here, and we’ll send this out as a little giveaway at the end of the session. So, look out for the email there on this. But essentially, what you need to do with each of your ideas, you need to run it through these 4-step questions. How valuable is your idea? Is it valuable or not? If it’s not, you’re straightaway at a competitive disadvantage. If you are, if it is valuable, happy days. But then is it a rare thing? You know, and you just need to go through each of these 4 segments. You know, what’s the value? How rare is it? How easy is it to be imitated? Can someone copy it very quickly? Or is it protected with design rights and patents or your own kind of stamp on it somehow? And then, the last question here is your organization. Does your company have organized management systems, processes, structures, and a culture that will capitalize on resources and capabilities? If you can answer yes to all those four, I can guarantee you that your idea will have a sustained competitive advantage in the marketplace.
So, with all this kind of COVID lark, we’ve seen some incredible feats of engineering. And we’ve seen the bounds of technology stretch beyond recognition. But how new, how truly new should your idea be? Or to kind of put in a different frame, if you were to develop a new product, would you develop something totally new? Would you develop something with totally new technology? Or would you kind of borrow and steal a bit from the existing technologies that are currently out there? Would you use Bluetooth or would you go and develop your own type of alternative technology? You know, you see what I’m trying to get out here? Is, you know, you’re going to try and develop your own version of Bluetooth, what’s the point? I mean, seriously.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
So, this is a system that has been developed by NASA. And it’s called the Technology Readiness Level, or TRL, as we call it. And if you ship your idea out to a product company like Innovolo, the likelihood is that we will assess your idea against this TRL. Why? Well, check this out. This slide here kind of probably explains itself. But if you look at this red line here, so at the bottom here, you’ve got totally new, so the technology is totally new, look at that red line right at the top there. And that’s your risk. Pure clone is where you’re purely borrowing and stealing and other technologies. So, sure, you can take some totally new technology out there but look at the risk! And then the other curve I want to highlight there is the green one. Because that’s one to watch out for. The totally new technologies typically are the very exciting ones. But the point about this graph is, you just really need to be careful. There are high, high risks.
The Bank Robbery Curve
So, this is me just about to wrap up. But just before I finish, I just want to show you this. And this just back to my point about running off the shiny things. You know, if it’s my own personal idea, it’s often, from my perspective, the best idea ever. And the enthusiasm maybe kind of starts to wane a bit when we actually get into planning this thing, and then, “Oh, shoot, I really don’t think this is a good idea. But I’m going to have to do anyway because I’m committed to it. I’ve told everyone about it,” (or maybe not if you’re doing a bank robbery), but, you know, I’m committed to this. No matter what happens, I’m going through that.” And that’s where you’re kind of… your enthusiasm level is right at the bottom. And we hit that rock bottom when we get caught, or it goes wrong, or someone’s threatening court action. So, the question is, do we need to go through with that, those kinds of massive corporate adrenalin and dopamine rushes? I’ll leave that thought with you.
And, in wrapping up, five key takeaways. If you’re going to launch an innovation program in your business, you need to take these five points. Because as much as we’d like to, there are no prioritization silver bullets, and we have to choose whatever is more appropriate for our… for our particular product, or particular team or industry. But these 5 points here are common themes that I need to point out. You need to prioritize at a high level. You need to focus on providing value to the end-user, and not just the kind of minutia. Don’t waste time, much time on it as the strategy changes. You need to set goals, measure and adjust, innovate on your innovation. You can’t do it alone. You need to understand that quantitative, the amount of ideas does not mean better than the quality of the ideas. And knowing what you’re getting out of the method, and when to use is really key. And then the last point here is the external versus internal. And the point about that is external techniques are better for prioritizing more abstract outcomes, internal techniques are better for prioritizing the more concrete solutions. And with that, I’ll hand you back to Mr. Euan.
Euan: Thank you, Bradley, and thank you, Jesse. That’s been an excellent insight into the power of organizing ideas and taking them through to a workable product. It’s been demonstrated so often, as Jesse mentioned. We’ve got a slot now for just a few minutes to answer any questions that you may have. We have had a number come in already, which we will obviously need to prioritize. But obviously, if you send a question in, we will respond to you personally following the event. And obviously, keep an eye out on social media as we will be posting responses on there too. There’s a couple of questions that have come in. It’s probably for both of you, Jesse and Bradley. And that comes from two kinds of aspects. One question is, “How can I get my ideas heard by management as an employee?” And then there’s another question that’s come in from someone else saying, “We already tried asking your employees for ideas, but they didn’t really send any over? What are we doing wrong?” Could either of you answer that?”
Jesse: Yeah, I guess I can start. I think these are, even though they’re around the same topic, they’re slightly on the different sides of the thing. So, if we start with the first one about how to get your ideas heard as an employee? Well, the thing is that most companies are ultimately… or the decision making in most companies is usually mostly evidence-based, even though it might not always feel like that. So, for innovation that basically has two implications. The bad thing is that, by definition, innovation is something new and uncertain. So, there’s usually little evidence for it working before you started working on it. But the good thing is that, if you are able to make your point with solid evidence, you’ll usually get your way at the end. So, if management doesn’t really listen to you or believe your point, I think you have to just kind of take ownership of the issue yourself and, A, figure out why it is that they’re not listening? Is it that they don’t have the bandwidth or the resources to implement anything else? Or do they just not think that your idea isn’t any good or like what the case is? You have to kind of like figure that out first. And then, B, kind of like find a way to address those concerns, and then gather evidence to prove why you’re right. And that’s, of course, always simpler on paper than it is in real life. But unfortunately, that is the case with a lot of things innovation-related, I guess.
Euan: Very helpful, Jesse. Thank you. Have you got any comments on that, Bradley?
Bradley: Yeah, I think that was covered quite well. I think it’s a difficult one. And as we put on the chart there, you know, if they don’t listen to you, it’s a cultural issue. And that is something that business owners and leaders really need to be aware of, and really listening to the sounds of the troops. Because ultimately, if we look back at the Innovation Value Pyramid, right at the top of it, you’ve got your culture. And if you’re, as an employee, not getting your ideas heard by management, that is a key indicator to me that you’re not at the top of that pyramid yet as a company. There are ways in which we can help you to climb the side of that pyramid. And we can help you as an employee and as a business owner as well. So, please reach out to us.
Euan: Excellent, thank you, Bradley. And perhaps we’ve got time for just one more. And someone said, “I would suggest that training in creativity needs to be included in the section that crosses culture and tools. By no means do all employees feel able to innovate, but they can be taught to be more creative.” You got any comments on that, Bradley, Jesse?
Jesse: Yeah, I can make a start on that. So, yeah, I think that’s definitely a big part of it. Training plays a huge role in, of course, like, of course, creating or providing employees with the right skills. But what I’d like to point out there is that, even though everyone in the company should take ownership of innovation on their own areas, most of those innovations aren’t actually all that difficult. They’re usually just like simple incremental improvements on something that they’re already working on. So, it’s not like they suddenly must figure out ways to come up with some new groundbreaking innovations again, but it’s much simpler than that. And they just have to kind of like have the right mindset of taking ownership and solving problems and always making things better. And if not, they can’t do all of that themselves, then at least let it be known that there are these opportunities out there. And of course, training obviously plays a big part on creating that kind of mindset as well. So, I think you’re definitely on the right point there.
Bradley: I think it comes back, Jesse, doesn’t it, to your point about making it fun? You need to make the whole innovation program fun. You need to reward and really engage your staff. And that in itself will motivate your employees to start learning these new methods and frameworks themselves. And that in itself, you know, you’re suddenly gaining momentum as a company. And yeah, you can’t, it’s very hard to be taught to be more creative, but there are ways to get more of those ideas and creativity out of your team. It shouldn’t be like squeezing blood out of a stone.
Jesse: Yeah, definitely. And I think again, back to that, it doesn’t have to be about the classic saying that the manager says that, “Don’t come to me with problems. Come to me with solutions.” And then like, I don’t think innovation really should be about that. It should be about you pointing out problems and then finding out or figuring out ways to solve those problems together. So, just pointing out those problems already goes a huge way towards actually solving those problems and coming up with innovations.
Bradley: Yeah, teamwork is absolutely key.
Euan: Yeah, that’s very helpful. And we’ve found that we, Bradley, as we’ve been carrying out workshops with our clients and speaking to their teams, along with the managers, carrying out the ideation sessions, that kind of thing, some of the ideas that come from maybe some of them… even the warehouse guys, or you know, someone that has nothing to do with research and development within the company, sometimes they might regard as a bit throwaway idea, it gets… just gets thrown in the pot as a bit of a joke. And that’s part of it, make it fun, make it good fun. And, you know, we’ve seen time and time again, those throwaway ideas turn into absolutely incredible ideas that have actually turned businesses around, quite literally. And so, don’t ever discourage throwaway ideas, I guess, or what might seem like a throwaway idea at the time.
Perhaps we probably need to wrap up on the Q&A, I’m afraid. There are a number of other questions we’ll need to follow up following this webinar. And just quickly before we close, Bradley’s already mentioned, there are obviously some giveaways following this presentation. But in addition, Viima are actually giving away an offer if you sign up now via the link in the chatbox. It’s a free sign up. But if you can sign up now, there is an offer. Jessie, would you like to outline quickly what that looks like?
Jesse: Sure. So, as you mentioned already, during the presentation, we’ve made our basic plan of our software free for an unlimited number of people, at least during the current COVID crisis. But now, for the participants of this webinar, we’re also offering a free month on our premium plan, which has all of the nice features for the automated idea scoring and all of that stuff that we also covered during the webinar.
So, you get to play around and try all of those features out. And that free month allows you to run, for example, one, like an idea challenge with anyone and everyone in your company. So, you could already get a lot of practical use out of the tool, even in that relatively short period of time. And putting the tool into use is just a few minutes. So, it’s not like a big ordeal that you have to like to implement the new IT system. It’s really simple and quick.
Bradley: Yes, it’s very intuitive, it’s very good.
Euan: Thank you, Jesse, that’s an offer that you really can’t afford to miss. It’s well worth just signing up and trying it. If you don’t like it, you can jump out of it, but I’m pretty sure you won’t. And so, obviously, as we’ve already mentioned, we really, really do value any feedback and comments. And so, if you could leave them via the website or social media or get in touch with the team, that’d be great. I really do value your feedback around these webinars. So, thank you very much, everyone, for attending today. It’s been really great to have you on board. And plus, a very warm welcome to any newcomers that haven’t been on our webinars before. And once again, thank you very much, Jesse, for giving your time and sharing your expertise on the platform. And keep a close eye out for upcoming events that they’re running all the time. There’s plenty more planned. We look forward to seeing you all again very soon and goodbye for now.