It’s hard to generate new ideas. It’s even harder to generate ideas that succeed. As new product failure rates hover around 70%, discovering new ways to grow revenue is a daunting prospect for organizations.

So, how do you invent new ideas to successfully maximize your innovation efforts and ultimately, grow your business? The answer is twofold:  know where to look and know how to look. This post will uncover fresh ways to approach innovation that already exist in your environment, allowing you to build a toolkit to generate insights.

Know where to look for new ideas

When looking for ideas, don’t act on a hunch. Be proactive and talk to people.

Look to your customers: Organizations tend to overlook customer research and instead, act on assumptions about customer needs. Customer research provides an opportunity to generate bold new ideas you may have never considered on your own while also ensuring that new products are aligned with what your customers actually want. In fact, one of the top reasons why new product failure rates are so high, is that many organizations launch ideas without taking enough time to understand their target buyers.

Look inside of your organization: Engaging internal stakeholders, such as frontline sales teams, often presents an efficient and insightful way to learn about your customers. Not only does this yield fresh new ideas, engaging employees provides a valuable window into customer service and your organization’s ability to execute.

Know how to look for new ideas: build a toolkit

Build an innovation toolkit capable of delivering vivid, actionable insights.

Voice of the Customer (VoC): VoC consists of having conversations with real, live stakeholders. These conversations may validate your previous assumptions or yield new ideas that you never would have previously considered. If you are a data and analytics driven organization, talking to people is also an excellent opportunity to look at the “why” behind your numbers.  If done correctly, VoC is a rapid, targeted exercise that can be accomplished in as few as 15 phone conversations.

Voice of the Employee (VoE): VoE allows you to talk to your employees and yield valuable insights ranging from learning about your customers to exploring ways to improve service. Having conversations with internal stakeholders also generates team alignment by widening the pool of internal stakeholders that have visibility into new product development. Alignment is a key part of launching and executing successful new ventures and engaging others from the get-go is essential.

In person visits: When you need depth that goes beyond conversations, don’t be afraid to go on-site and interact with people. Participate in customer activities, work alongside salespeople, and develop an understanding of how things work in the real world. In many cases, you’ll see unexpected things that you might not be have been able to uncover through interviews alone.

A great example of the benefits of on-site exposure is Google Suggest, a feature that delivers pop up search suggestions before a user has finished making an entry. This development of this feature was the result of in-person time spent with Chinese users that were struggling to achieve satisfactory search results.

Growing a mature business is no easy task. However, if you know where to look and have a toolkit ready to generate insights, you’ll greatly improve your chances of success. Below are key takeaways to remember:

  • Stay customer focused and don’t forget to do your homework before launching new ventures.
  • Engage your team throughout the process. Learn from their experiences and generate alignment from the get-go.
  • Interact with real people to develop actionable insights that help your organization see through the eyes of others
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