Has anyone thought of customers in the innovation process?


Here is a useful question to ask yourself to understand the difference between what is simply an idea and something that can instead turn into a process of innovation.

Innovation“, a term now so inflated that the reactions to it are brought to paroxysm, depending on the case, this term is transformed into a miraculous mantra, a universal panacea or a waste of time.
But why did we get there? Should not innovation be inserted into a fundamental process of a successful company?
Fernando Trias de Bes, an entrepreneur and expert in Catalan marketing, identifies together with Philip Kotler, in the book Winning at Innovation, 7 issues that have made innovation soaring.

  1. What does it really mean to innovate?

The small constant innovations are fundamental and should represent the norm, not the exception. This is why it is important to change your mindset. We must not think of innovation as something to be achieved with a sort of tear, from one day to the next, but as a path that has a precise goal and that, yes, it changes the cards on the table and is ready to amaze.
This is why, in organizations, it is important to have a process that continuously repeats this path of production and implementation of innovative ideas.

  1. Who is responsible for the innovation process?

Nominating within a company an innovation manager should be the rule today.
Despite the ability to innovate is essential for the survival of most companies, managers are often not identified as such. R&D is often involved, and the lucky ones with the contribution of marketing, which form the exclusive club of innovators. But innovation should not be reserved for a few members of a club that pontificate among themselves.
Innovation is a commitment and a responsibility of the whole company.

In this way you can have three types of innovation:

  • closed (carried out by individual departments)
  • collaborative (carried out collectively by the company)
  • open (involving people outside the company).


  1. What is the difference between innovation and creativity?

Finally after so much thinking comes the great idea! And then?
It often happens that an idea full of potential remains for years within the organization bounced to the right and left without anyone taking responsibility for managing it. This is a clear sign that creativity is not enough to achieve innovation.
We have seen how the process of innovation is sustained and fed primarily by people. Besides these, it is necessary to create a process capable of ensuring that great ideas do not remain only on paper but find a way to be adopted, creating a positive impact.

And here already the first difficulties begin: are we sure that innovation and creativity go hand in hand?
Very often there is no shortage of creative people, but rather figures who manage the fruits of creativity and transform them into innovation. Innovation requires creative people, but it also involves the determination of clear objectives, the definition of strategies, the identification of resources and risks. Above all, we need to identify the managers who are related to each step in the innovation process, from the birth of an idea to its actual implementation.


  1. What is the price to pay?

Every day we are at work, a new challenge begins. We must ensure that our work generates profits and, in the meantime, we must look to the future to understand how to innovate and anticipate changes to maintain position and progress without running the risk of disappearing.
But it is very difficult to ask oneself how to do things in another way while doing them.
This is why it is difficult to innovate because innovation often involves the modification of something that, at least for the moment, works. How often do you hear the phrase “we have always done like this”?
On the other hand, however, it is a question of deciding between the egg today and the hen tomorrow: a farsighted and enlightened entrepreneur will not have the slightest doubt about which alternative to choose. It is, therefore, a matter of having the courage to make changes to what works while one is committed to carrying forward even the daily routine, and there is not a precise model that defines the right moment in which to change.


  1. Who is in control of the situation?

Companies have well-defined rules when it comes to, for example, accounting or sales. In innovation, however, they have not yet developed a shared framework. The process that leads to innovation must have firstly defined rules and there must be consensus on which variables to monitor.
Specifically, monitoring innovation is the real problem: without a framework of reference, without comparisons that do not stop only at the results, the task becomes almost impossible. An appropriate modus operandi must be attributed to innovation, starting to consider innovation as a part of operational management.
When assigning responsibilities for the innovation process, control becomes possible.


  1. Who coordinates the various aspects of the innovation process?

As should be coordination between the various departments, each in its own way, they are called upon to contribute to the innovation process? Because the real goal for companies today is to create a shared culture of innovation among all members of the organization.

However, a lack of coordination is often observed:

Horizontal: that is the coordination between the departments, between subjects of the same level within the company. If everyone had a real interest in how ideas are developed, they would receive the necessary push to become strategies and put theory into practice. The problem often is that the process of innovation is by ponds departments: someone has an idea, someone else develops, another puts it into practice.
Vertical: that is the coordination between the management and the rest of the organization. It often happens that the proposal is made to launch new products that management is not willing to finance, or that entail a greater risk than what is willing to support.
The imbalance between the company and those of innovation is one of the main obstacles to the realization of a successful innovation process.


  1. Has anyone thought of customers?

Here’s a useful question to ask yourself to understand the difference between what is simply an idea and something that can instead turn into innovation. Does this idea increase the value perceived by the customer?
If so, then an idea has all the credentials to become innovation.

It is impossible to innovate if you do not focus on the needs of the end customer. At the end of its process, innovation, at the time of exit on the market, must be accepted by the customer, must be able to pass it from a service or a product that previously used to something new. This step is not always obvious: often the change frightens us, so the customer will be willing to do it only if the benefits he imagines he can achieve are far superior to those offered by the previous product or service.
This is why we often can not innovate simply by relying on brainstorming. After all, the components of the company, despite the strong deductive skills and as they represent a target sample, still constitute a small percentage of the jungle of customers with whom, then, innovation will have to interface.

These are the questions that many companies ignore and that if they do not get an adequate response, do not allow to obtain satisfactory results.


Would you like your collaborators to help you create a process of innovation? Read 5 ways to motivate and engage your employees