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Innovation: 6 Tips to Find Innovative Ideas

Innovation starts with having good ideas and ideally a lot of them. Especially for startups, not only to generate new ideas to build a new business but also following the latest trends, constantly feeding the existing product with new features, and improving the user experience is very critical and part of innovation.  As a founder, you need to actively, continuously, and systematically generate ideas to fill your innovation pipeline. 

Generating ideas is vital for businesses to survive and thrive. As change accelerates in markets and technology, entrepreneurs need to continually innovate to compete, grow and remain relevant to their customers. “Ideas are a powerhouse for your business,” Walkowiak says. “Winning business owners have figured out how to generate ideas and integrate adaptability throughout their organization. Creativity is a game-changer for them.

However, we know that it is not easy to think innovatively in the daily workflow or to make it a part of daily life. We have compiled a few tips for you that you can apply.

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Don’t overcomplicate the innovation generation process

What most people don’t realize is, that coming up with ideas is an easy process. If you already have an item or service in mind, the rest of the idea generation process only becomes difficult when you think about all the details in advance.

Overthinking all details  will only complicate your idea generation process. To make things easier, you can try;

  • Ask your teammates or employees about it. They may have suggestions you never thought about.
  • Talk about your idea with friends and family. Additional inputs always help, particularly if they’re also into business.
  • Think like a customer. Refer to your idea and imagine yourself as the customer. What would make you buy the product or service?

Doing these things only means that there are additional considerations that entrepreneurs must make before embarking on a single project.

Brainstorming ideas through Mind Mapping

Brainstorming is a way of generating innovation and organizing your thinking on a topic. It can take shape as a simple list, an outline or a mind map. On the other hand, mind mapping is a way of visually organizing information around a central point, with related points linked from it like branches from the trunk of a tree.

  • Once you have generated some ideas, you can evaluate and organize them, and narrow down your focus.
  • The key to successful brainstorming is suspending judgment and opening your mind to different possibilities, including wild and unusual ideas.

When you want to come up with new business ideas, brainstorming is a great way to keep your creative juices on track. It provides an avenue for producing fresh and profitable concepts. Hence, using brainstorming software is ideal. 

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Brainstorming software enables teams to vote and comment on insights gathered. As it helps in bridging your thoughts, it makes it easy to identify how to proceed with every concept that’s been considered.

Identify challenges, take risks and collect ideas to innovate

Now you’re ready to start gathering ideas. It’s common to begin with a challenge—for example, a new technology, unanswered customer need, production bottleneck, product issue or pricing—then find ideas to solve it. It’s important to come up with various ways of generating ideas inside and outside your organization. When you are in the process of assessing your ideas, it is helpful to  identify the risks and challenges, so you can decide either to go or not. You can use Swot analysis to map all possible opportunities and threats. 

Once you’ve collected ideas, the next step is to choose a few of the most compelling or high-potential ones for more in-depth exploration. For this important step of prioritization, it’s helpful to use simple frameworks (for example, a business model canvas, which is a visual chart often used to develop or document a business model) and selection criteria (e.g. feasibility, competencies, profitability). Then, teams can vote for the most promising ideas during a town hall or ideation session.

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Validation, a process of innovation

Now it’s time to explore your best ideas further to research if they’re worth pursuing and even implementing. For example, if the idea is a new digital service, you can discover who the target customers are, validate the value proposition with them on social media or directly, examine the market potential and talk to your team about design and production possibilities.

““Innovation must be based on evidence, not wishful thinking. You don’t want to spend too much time on it if it doesn’t have the potential to solve customers’ problems or answer an unsatisfied need. You need to be creative in how you test the idea without actually building it. The challenge is the difference between what customers say and what they will actually do.” Walkowiak says.

Write new ideas that pop up while you’re working

Sometimes, when you focus on something, thoughts and ideas suddenly come. When this happens, writing them is great to keep them flowing. Record them immediately and type (or write) them when you can. They can arrive at any time of the day, so no matter how unsure you are of the ideas that come to you, write them down. Reading them in the next few days or weeks can lead to more concepts and further improvements.” Walkowiak says.

Take risk & make mistakes

One thing that separates innovators from the herd is that they are not afraid to make mistakes. Thomas Edison succeeded because he didn’t give up despite failing over and over again. He persevered because he saw failure as part of the learning process while he experimented with his ideas. Innovators like him see mistakes as opportunities for perfecting their innovation.

Keep pushing your boundaries. Innovators embrace risk because they love shaking things up to make things more interesting rather than lead mundane, typical lives. If Mark Zuckerberg had not taken that leap of faith and dropped out of Harvard University to finish up his Facebook project, he would never have realized that his innovation has the potential to change the world. So, venture forth and take some healthy risks.

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