1. EXPLORE -
This is the most important part of the process and often the most overlooked and underfunded by companies. Einstein said, "If I had 1 hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes on a solution." His rationale was that if he really understood a problem then the solutions would become obvious.
This demonstrates why the Explore phase should be at the foundation of any innovation process. You need to gain a deep understanding of customers needs and desires before you can begin to generate ideas. The Explore phase provides the fuel for the next step - the Ideate phase.
2. IDEATE -
This is the fun part of innovation. Generating as many ideas as possible to solve for a well understood customer need. Unfortunately, many companies don't spend enough time on the ideate phase or don't enable their employees to participate in a meaningful way. Some companies only consider ideas from the senior leaders. This is a critical mistake because often the best ideas come from lower level employees, especially those working closest with the customer.
Other companies don't allow their employees the proper time and forums to produce ideas, believing that a simple suggestion box is enough. The fact is that time spent generating ideas, via proven creative exercises, is one of the most important things a company can do. Without developing great ideas companies will eventually stop being relevant to their customers.
3. EVALUATE -
After generating a high volume of ideas it is necessary to narrow down and select the optimal ones to move forward. Making the right decisions here is crucial to the success of the project. Moving forward the wrong idea can lead to failure. While failing to promote the right idea can be lead to a missed opportunity.
Often companies don't spend enough resources or have processes in place to adequately evaluate ideas. In addition, the evaluate phase can seem tedious as hundreds or thousands of ideas are reviewed. This is where Ferman Innovation's Idea Tournament process is particularly valuable, as it makes the process fun, engaging and effective, increasing the chances that the best ideas are selected to move into Design.
Now that you have selected one or more ideas that you intend to bring to market, the design phase is where you start building and testing rapid prototypes with customers. Through systematic experimentation and multiple prototype iterations, the optimal product design can be achieved. A great design phase will maximize the likelihood of a successful product launch.