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    The Ideation Process: What it is, Why Important and Management Commitment

    The global recession and the emergence of new markets abroad have forced companies to seek modified business models and different growth strategies. This new dynamic has intensified the demand for new creative thinking. Therefore we are presenting a series of five blogs on the ideation process, each reflecting a critical phase, which will soon be captured in a comprehensive ebook – “5 Essential Steps For A Successful Ideation”. We hope this stimulates your thinking, especially how you can identify new growth opportunities.

    The “Economist” wrote in August 2011 that “Innovation is today’s equivalent of the Holy Grail…and business people everywhere see it as the key to survival”. Innovation takes many forms, but all involve creating new ideas, whether it’s the “big idea” or several strategic and tactical initiatives. Research consistently reveals that 80%  of companies know that big ideas are critical to success, yet only 4% think they know how to do this (source:  “Big Ideas” by Jonne Ceserani).

    edison quote resized 600Ideation has often been called “structured brainstorming”, and is a powerful technique for innovation. There are many traditional ways to get new ideas – suggestion boxes, hiring reputable business gurus, and various forms of market research, for example. However, today’s intense competition and the pressure to transform business models in our dynamic global will require more discipline and thought for effective idea generation. It’s not easy, and you have to think…a lot. As Thomas Edison described idea generation in 1929, it’s “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.

    To make the ideation process successful, companies must realize that an organized 1-2 day session will require careful research, pre-planning and early participation beforehand. It all starts at the top. Senior management must be committed to the notion of change and understand certain principles and techniques of the ideation process. Here is the first critical prerequisite that will improve the odds for success:

    Know Your Problem…and Possible Opportunities – Einstein once commented that understanding a problem is as important as the solution. While many companies realize that new ideas are important, they have not fully diagnosed the real challenges they face for the future. Every business plan will undoubtedly identify some immediate problems and good opportunities to resolve them, but generally they won’t address the more strategic, business model issues that will determine its survival in the long run – e.g. future competition, category threats, organizational changes, external trends, re-positioning to meet new challenges, big potential opportunities, etc. Understanding the current perceptions of these problems and related opportunities within the company enables management to establish a minimal threshold for creating really bold, exciting ideas that are truly new and groundbreaking. Interviewing key employees, analyzing their feedback, and then writing a clear, definitive problem/opportunity brief will provide optimal focus and a realistic set of objectives for an ideation session.

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    Next: 4 Examples of Key Tasks to Prepare for a Successful Ideation Session

    Part 1: The Ideation Process: What it is, Why Important and Management Commitment
    Part 2: 4 Examples of Key Tasks to Prepare for a Successful Ideation Session
    Part 3: Who Should Participate in an Ideation Session – Importance of Diversity
    Part 4: What You Should Include to Make an Ideation Session a Success
    Part 5: Completing the Ideation Process – The Challenge of Execution


     image credit: LifeSupercharger

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    Global Partners Inc.
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    Written by Jay Gronlund