Giving New Ideas Wings

What can companies do to be better at creating winning ideas?
Vijit Singh

A surprisingly small percentage of new products, services, and brand ideas evolve to see the light of day. Even for those that do, the in-market failure rate is astonishingly high. The million-dollar question is then: Why is this the case, and what can companies do to be better at creating winning ideas?

Part of the problem lies in the creative process. Coming up with new ideas is the easy bit, but people struggle to know what to do next. This is the process that I Wish helps companies to conquer. Fortunately, it’s one that can be deployed to help bring ideas from the drawing board into the real world without succumbing to doubt and disinterest. It’s factors like these that typically dilute an idea and erode its potential to succeed.

Using Insight to Supply Demand

When consumers see an innovative new product, they often think that it must have dawned on the creator with an epiphany. Sure, there are times when a thought suddenly crystalises and gives birth to an idea.  

More commonly, though, these moments are prefaced by somebody gaining a deeper level of understanding of consumer needs which gives way to the ideation process. The old proverb, “invention is the mother of necessity” will direct your energy from the beginning.

The trick is to take the accident of a eureka moment and turn it into a funnel that can deliver workable outcomes. If your process doesn’t flow from insight to idea, idea to concept, and from concept to reality, you risk becoming lost along the way.  

Building in a roadmap from the start will help guide you throughout the process. It will help you ensure consumers’ evolving needs and wants are catered to, starting now and going into the future.

Purpose, Not Profit

The greatest factor that leads people astray is the approach they take to idea generation. It may be whimsical, but Jurassic Park’s Dr Ian Malcom put it best when he said: “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The same goes for businesses that come up with new products for the sole purpose of turning a profit, rather than trying to address real gaps in the market.  

The answer is to look carefully at what people really want and need. By combining those needs with insights gleaned from technology and the business world, you can start to formulate more purposeful ideas. These are the products that succeed and the vanguard of companies that stay afloat, because they’re offering something that society wants rather than trying to commercialise an idea for the sake of it.  

The Ingredients for Generating Great Ideas

One of the most successful ways to move towards idea generation is through Synectics, a problem-solving methodology with a name that derives from the Greek to “join together different and apparently irrelevant elements.” To you and me, that means taking a diverse selection of viewpoints and insights to arrive at a creative solution that everyone can get behind.  

For most organisations, that probably doesn’t sound too far away from what they do already. Through workshops, it’s possible to create a melting pot of insights and experiences that can be combined into truly fantastic plans. The challenge is to get the balance of that melting pot right.  

Generally, there are three ingredients you need for this:

  • The right mindset for creativity to flow, and one where you ask the right questions. We use the stunningly simple, childlike language of ‘I wish’ or ‘How to’ – because these phrases get people thinking without boundaries.
  • The right climate and process to permit creativity. Wherever people congregate there are clashes and disagreements, and so we’re very careful to suspend judgement and try to keep all pathways open. There’s plenty of time for caution and critique when you’re looking at the detail and moving your chosen idea forward.
  • The right people to act as the coagulant that brings visions together. You need a combination of the creative, innovative, practical, and detail-driven thinkers to get a fresh concept over the line. This crossover is what allows what starts off as smaller insights to snowball into bigger, actionable designs.

Opportunity vs. Feasibility

With each of these elements working in tandem, you can conceptualise things that work no matter which way you look at them. What’s harder to decide is which idea is worthy of your resources. Most organisations are looking for proposals that can be accomplished easily and for substantial reward. The problem is that if something’s lucrative and easy to achieve, it’s probably already been done.  

An arguably better approach is to tackle something more challenging, but where the payoff is higher. You can use your collective knowledge to chip away at the problem. When the seemingly impossible starts to gain traction, you know that you’ve struck gold.  

Charting a Course for Big Ideas

The process doesn’t end when you’ve brought an idea into reality, either. In fact, it’s just the beginning because it’s critical to come up for air and to reassess what people think of your solution. Pick your moment and share your work. If the end product doesn’t fit consumer, brand, or business expectations, you need to refine it further and build the right context.

By having the humility to ask for honest opinions and a willingness to put them into effect, you’ll end up with a roadmap for continual improvement. It’s this recipe for progress that facilitates the big, game-changing ideas that are all too frequently written off as infeasible.  

Don’t Become a Statistic

To summarise, there are two primary mistakes you can make when trying to create new products or services:

  1. Delving into the details of idea development without creating anything truly new for  consumers.  
  2. Trying to take a new idea to market with old thinking, or without a plan.

Instead, the very best inventions have the perfect composition. They’re groundbreaking, but through proper attention to detail, they’ve become polished enough to fill a gap. By facilitating real ‘blue sky’ thinking, combining different viewpoints, and plotting them out properly, most businesses can execute an idea to its full potential.  

This process is our way to help companies devise big ideas that stick, and to avoid them becoming a failure statistic. These are the challenges we face every day at I Wish, and by applying this formula, we help our clients to become immeasurably more creative and to realise attractive returns for this creativity.  

Put simply, it’s a pragmatic approach to imagination that can take your wildest dreams and distil them into achievable realities.

April 2021
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