3 reasons why your team is not able to generate good ideas

ProdMan101 — Why is Idea Generation Difficult

Any new product or company starts with a vision.

As an enabler to that vision is an idea (or many ideas) on how they can solve the customer or users’ problem in an innovative way.

That’s how big companies like Google, Uber, and many others started.

In the digital age where many new startups are spawning up every day challenging the status quo of the big sharks out there, it becomes more important than ever to ensure that you are innovating your product more frequently.

But Product Innovation is easier said than done.

Companies want their culture to be more innovative, leaders want the employees to be more innovative, even your customers want you to be more innovative in your products and offerings.

So where is Innovation and why is it so difficult to find?

Here are the top 3 reasons why companies and teams often find innovation difficult

Disruption

How does this impede new ideas?

When a company starts, or even during its initial phase, the primary focus is on innovation. Founders and team members (if present) huddle together to come up with the next big idea.

This energy however phases out as the company goes into maturity with a steady cash in-flow.

Today, everyone wants disruption, but only a few can commit themselves to it.

Anyone suggesting something like “blockchain” to change how the existing process might be improved, would often be given a pat on the back and throw away the idea into the bin.

Why does that happen?

It’s because even though there might be light at the end of the tunnel (the idea), often leadership and investors would focus on the ROI.

What if the disruption takes a wrong turn? Would it affect my revenue? Will I lose my customers?

All these are plausible cases, but often there is a way to mitigate these risks.

How to mitigate the risk?

Many organizations today keep an Idea Charter for their teams. This is the place where teams can post an idea.

Every idea in the charter has these inputs

  • Title
  • Description
  • How does it benefit business (Topline, Botton line, etc.)
  • The estimated effort required to implement the idea
  • POC plan
  • POC completed?
  • Posted By
  • Posted On

Leadership and management need to look at this pool more proactively. Ideally, they need to have a pool of innovation budget from where they can fund such promising ideas every month or quarter.

Autonomy

The next biggest challenge to innovation is the lack of autonomy.

Often in teams, the responsibilities are quite siloed. For project execution, this might work out well. However, this might not work out at all for idea generation. In many organizations, the product team is assumed to be the one to come up with new innovative product ideas. Engineering, Marketing, and other teams (since they are not part of the core Product Strategy team) are kept outside this Idea Generation team.

Why does this happen?

A true innovation culture is one where everyone in the organization has the autonomy to ideate, experiment, and take the idea forward.

Today in the name of innovation culture, what we get is compartmentalization.

If you have a great idea, it needs to be taken to some leader who is sitting there to allocate a budget from the innovation pool. Obviously, what that means is that there are many other factors in play apart from how well the idea is.

How to be more innovative?

In a true innovation culture, everyone should be allocated an innovation budget. This means that out of their month's work, maybe 10–20% is allocated for ideation and experimentation.

Many companies have already adopted this approach. Their employees are even evaluated on how well they have been able to come up with new ideas, how many of such ideas were implemented, etc.

The right outlook

Experiential Metabolism

Ideas are generated through interaction — Interaction between people, between people and their environment (or even nature).

Unfortunately, today we spend very little time on such activities and more on some digital or social platform.

Less interaction leads to less experiential metabolism, resulting in fewer new ideas being generated.

Every great company started from an experience.

Today however we all are so busy with our 9 to 5 job, we spend very little time nurturing our interactions.

Technology Focused

Innovation comes from 3 major avenues — People, Process, and Technology.

In this digital age, we are so fixated on technology, that often we try to force-fit technology to every problem. This often leads to a mediocre solution where we haven’t explored the best solution yet.

Think of an IT company building solutions for its clients. Without first-hand knowledge of the process (which probably happens outside of India), the development team has zero knowledge of the current interactions.

They can interact with their clients to know more. But that would be second-hand information, often missing out on the key points and actual experiences.

Great innovation happens when you marry the Process and People knowledge with Technology, not in silos.

This is also why most startups have a Technical and a Business co-founder at the beginning.

To know more, visit http://prodman101.org

Product Manager | Product Enthusiast | Nature Lover

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Product Manager | Product Enthusiast | Nature Lover

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