It’s all about the ideas. “I just need to come up with that one great idea.” It’s a mantra that many innovators tell themselves. I need to find the idea that will generate a new line of business and huge profit margins for my company. If it were this easy, there would be millions of successful innovators out there, but the reality is, it’s not that easy. The reason lies in the fact that even great ideas are difficult to execute, and without execution, there is no success in innovation.
Thomas Edison once said, “Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” This quote is as true today as it was when he said it. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears that go into innovating that create the end result, not the idea itself. What really counts is the ability to implement. How do you decide which ideas are worth the effort and how do you implement them? Here are five tips that will lead you from innovation to implementation:
- Put the customer first
How do you determine which ideas are worth chasing? The best way to prioritize is to put your customers first. If an idea does not solve a problem for your customer, then it’s not an idea worth developing further. Having conversations with customers, finding out what keeps them up at night, focus groups, and customer journey mapping are all valuable ways to find out which ideas will help customers solve their problems.
- Beta test to fail fast
Now that you have an idea that you want to chase, what comes next? The beta test. Don’t waste time developing out the whole idea only to find out something foundational doesn’t work. Rather you should beta test the concept so that, if it is going to fail, you can predict the failure fast. If it is not going to work, you want to learn that quickly, so that you don’t waste time in the development phase. Design the beta test so that there are failure points along the way and, if your concept fails, cut your losses and move on.
- Learn from failure
A careful analysis of the conclusions drawn from your beta test results will allow you to learn as much from your failures as your successes. Failing teaches everyone how to make improvements going forward and ensures that the same mistake is not made twice. If you determine that you would be better off moving on to your next big idea, go back to your customers.
- Don’t miss your window of opportunity
If you are going to continue pursuing your idea, don’t wait until you have fully perfected your business model. Wait only until you have enough of a competitive edge to deter would-be competitors. It’s essential to get it in front of customers quickly. Speed is essential as you go-to-market and the first one out often wins. History is full of examples of companies that can trace their success to the fact that they were the first ones out with an innovative product or idea. If you have an idea that is truly innovative and solves a problem that customers really have, move quickly and boldly claim the benefit of being first-to-market, then continue to refine and innovate.
- Never stop innovating!
While being the first-to-market is important, so is the need to continue innovating. There are lots of examples throughout the history of companies that were first-to-market, but later lost their edge because they failed to continue innovating. Companies that get this right, stay on top of the market for decades. Netflix is a prime example. In 1998, Netflix became the world’s first online movie DVD rental store with the novel concept of renting and selling movie DVDs by mail. In an age when Blockbuster Video and its brick-and-mortar business model ruled, Netflix’s online rental store was considered an innovative concept. Yet, Netflix no longer sends out DVDs by mail; they have evolved tremendously since then. From their humble beginnings as a mail-order company, they have transformed into the subscription-based, streaming service and content-producing powerhouse they are today because they continued to progress their business model according to their customers’ needs. They kept reinventing themselves in order to evolve, innovate, and grow.
If you have a great idea, start thinking about how you will implement that idea to achieve true innovation success. Don’t underestimate the importance of execution!
Whether you are an innovator with the next great idea or simply need an innovative solution to a business problem, The Northridge Group is here to help. We know how to innovate and how to execute! Contact Us today to learn more.