INTERNAL INNOVATION PROCESS

Embed innovation in your organization and use

the creative power of your employees

Internal innovation process ​

Are you searching for a good way to develop new products, services, and/or business models in a relatively short period of time? Do you want to involve a broader set of employees? Do you want to generate quick wins but at the same time, you are perhaps aiming for some bigger ideas?

Our end-to-end innovation process can help you embed innovation systemically in your organization. You will not only have new products/services that can go to market, but your employees will develop their talents and at the same time, management will also develop a strategic orientation vis-à-vis innovation.

Teams will be provided with effective tools that can later be used in their daily jobs. Idea napkins and Results cards are two examples of tools that are frequently used during our innovation processes.

Idea napkin

An idea napkin is the written equivalent of the elevator pitch. An increasing number of our clients are using them as an intermediate step in ideation. It is very important to bring your ideas to life and ensure they are captured in a systematic and easy to share and compare format. They bring ideas to life for the first time and can be used for initial idea screening. But what are idea napkins? And how do you develop them?

 

 

 

 

 

An idea napkin is a very simple tool that forces you to synthesize the main value drivers of your solution by describing it in simple terms across the following five steps:

 

1. Give the idea a name: Finding a title for your idea forces you as an ideator to clarify, in very simple terms, the key benefits of the idea. It also stimulates ownership and ease of sharing.

2. Describe the idea in one sentence: In just one sentence you clarify the general idea proposed.

3. Explain what issues the idea solves: To give further details, it is important to clarify which customer needs or issues are solved by the proposed idea. This step requires you to synthesize and clarify who the target customer or user is, and what needs of such user the idea being described addresses.

4. Clarify how the user profits from the idea: The next step is to explain how the idea tackles the needs and how it benefits the customer or user.

5. Sketch how the idea solves the issue: The last step is for you to visually sketch how their idea solves a customer problem in three steps, making the idea come to life. This step is important to stimulate ideates to tell a story from the perspective of the target customer – what she goes through and what the proposed solution works and looks like. Areas that we typically focus on in this prototyping/sketching include clarifying the user experience and the solution or user interface. The sketches/drawings can be very simple (see the figure below as an example).

To see how idea napkins are used in real-life examples, you can read our blog post: https://www.mti2.eu/post/innovation-ideas-on-a-napkin-how-to-make-it-work. 

Results cards

Testing hypotheses is only the start of your validation trajectory. Such tests, by themselves, will not help you validate and reduce the risk of your idea. That’s why at MTI² we complement our Hypothesis Action Cards with a simple follow-up card that forces innovators to translate the results of their hypotheses tests into actionable insights.

Results Cards have two parts.

 

The first part of our “Results Cards” is akin to Alex Osterwalder’s Learning Cards (see his recent book Testing Business Ideas (John Wiley and Sons, 2020). The goal of this part of the results cards is to force innovation teams to move beyond their hypotheses and observations and extract insights from the preliminary evidence they gathered.

More specifically, they require innovators to examine the following:

  • Recap the underlying business case hypotheses that they decided to test (“we believed that”),

  • Indicate what evidence did they gather from the original experiments or tests ran (“we observed”),

  • Note down the learnings and insights they extract from these observations (“from that, we learned that…”),

  • And then discuss which evidence-based decisions and actions will they take.

 

In the second part of our Results Cards, we extend Alex Osterwalder’s learning cards to add another critical layer to this definition of evidence-based decisions: A roadmap for experimentation.

 

Results Cards are crucial to ensure that innovators use the evidence they gather in initial hypotheses tests to their fullest potential. They have three key benefits for innovators.

  • First, they force innovators to clarify what they learned from their initial hypotheses tests. 

  • Second, the insight generation exercise will also highlight what unknowns are still important, which helps ideators to carefully design larger-scale follow-up experiments. 

  • Third, by agreeing on a set of concrete actions to be taken with clear resources needed, the results cards increase the commitment but also the accountability of the ideators towards de-risking their idea and accelerating its path to market.

To learn how you can make Results cards yourself, you can take a look at: https://www.mti2.eu/post/results-cards-translating-the-results-of-your-hypotheses-tests-into-actionable-insights

How will our internal innovation process help your organization?

  • Your organization will have quick wins (projects that can be handed over to a unit and which will generate new business – focus on short-term results) as well as bigger ideas (focus on mid to long-term results), with the right push from management

  • A large selection of your employees will develop their competencies and their talent by working on their projects leading to a larger innovation culture within your organization (with tools they will be able to apply in their further careers)

  • Your management will discover new ways of doing business, will have discussed across silos, and will have a better common understanding of the way forward by identifying bottom-up generated strategic domains

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What can I expect when I run an internal innovation process with MTI²?

 

We offer a modular process that can include the following steps.

Step 1 – Co-design the process (approx. 2 months)

Now that you have decided that we can help you, we will first explore together with you what the stakeholdership looks like in your organization to understand who to invite to a first design workshop. During this first design workshop, we will discover your specific objectives, your constraints and explain the purpose of the different tools in an end-to-end process. This objectives-constraints-tools exercise will give us insight into how to shape each of the modules. Based on a good initial design, we will seek for internal feedback within your organization before launch.

Step 2 – Ideation (approx. 2 months)

During ideation, we will make a communication campaign for you such that the messaging on the innovation process is clear. We will invite employees to participate in webinars, ideation workshops, … to ensure employees feel enthusiastic and able to submit ideas. We help your internal project manager in monitoring the flow of ideas. We also provide tools to make evaluation of ideas easier.

 

We organize selection meetings with stakeholders following our DRIVE governance model to ensure there is buy-in for the decision to go for or to not pursue specific ideas. In our philosophy of caring for people’s competence development, we diligently organize the feedback to participants.

 

It is not an easy task to strictly select ideas. Therefore, we typically introduce a concept day during which a first selection of idea owners is invited to work during 1 day on the essentials of their idea (problem, customer, hurdles, team members needed) and present it to management. That way, management can make a more informed decision on the projects to send to the maturation phase.

Step 3 – Maturation (approx. 2-3 months)

Step 3.a – Team formation

A selection of ideas/idea owners is then invited to form a team. As the team is an extremely important factor in innovation success, we will help each idea owner form a passionate team. Dependent on your organization’s objectives, we will determine the suitability of the digital versus live marketplace & poster sessions. In this digital age, we still strongly believe in the force of human interaction and will determine together with you how to ensure there is a ‘band of brothers’ among your employees. Not only are these marketplaces a great opportunity for mingling among employees, it’s also for management a great opportunity to get to know the ideas and people involved.

Step 3.b – Gathering research insights to advance the concept

In this phase we help the team gather more information on the customer, competition and technology. Beyond gathering direct customer input we support in areas such as market potential estimation, customer segmentation and validation, competitive landscape and differentiation, and business model benchmarking. For more information about this phase visit our research for innovation page.

Step 3.c – Maturing the idea in maturation workshops

The teams (typically 5 to 7 teams) then participate in several days of workshops (typically 5 to 7 days) to mature their idea. The end point of such a bootcamp is typically a 12 min presentation following our template.  After the last day of the bootcamp, we organize dry-runs with the teams to ensure they are well prepared to pitch to management. Based on that pitch, top management will then decide which projects to take forward towards launch.

Step 4 – Go-to-market: Validation & experimentation (approx. 6- 9 months but dependent on the industry)

Great, senior management has decided that these projects can move to the validation & experimentation phase. In this phase, further resources are devoted to the project to validate the assumptions made in the previous phase. In this phase we apply a lean methodology to help you test and further develop your innovation.

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Get in touch with our specialist: Prof. dr. Isabel Verniers, for more information