I’m terrible at directions. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. Or ask anyone who rode with me before circa 2007. That was the year the iPhone came out and changed everything for me with Google Maps.

Before Google Maps came into my life, there were missed turns, frustration, and sadness. Now I just follow the blue line, and it takes me to my destination. I’m way less stressed, and my wife (who has a great sense of direction) is happier too. 

Is lack of direction holding our innovation back too?

Even when I know exactly how to get to my destination, having turn-by-turn directions allows me to focus on what I am doing now and not what I need to do next.

Lack of process = frustration

When I talk with team leaders at other companies, I often hear a frustration. They want their team to be innovative. They want them to come up with good ideas that could be impactful, but they too frequently don’t get those impactful ideas. And one of the biggest reasons is there is no clear process for innovation. Providing a framework can change that.

Practicing what we preach

We had a similar problem at Sodium Halogen a few years back. Even though we are constantly experimenting and trying new things, we weren’t really getting new product ideas. So we researched other processes and made the first version of our framework. Through experimentation and refinement, it slowly evolved into our step-by-step framework for innovation. 

Which of these scenarios sounds like what you have experienced?

Open-ended approach

A team member has an idea for a new product. They want to share it with a manager at the company, but:

  • They aren’t sure where to start or what the steps are.
  • They’re not sure how to know if the idea is any good.
  • They’re not sure how much time to spend on it before they present the idea.
  • It’s not clear how to present the idea.
  • It might not even be clear if management wants to hear new ideas.

The bottom line is team members aren’t sure if they are “doing it right”. 

Framework approach

A team member has an idea for a new product. They want to share it with a manager at the company, so they follow the framework:

  • Since management has provided a framework for developing ideas, members know ideas are wanted.
  • They know exactly how to start.
  • They have a step-by-step guide for developing the idea.
  • They know how to vet the idea and see if it’s any good.
  • It’s clear exactly how to present the idea.

Providing an innovation framework is like giving turn-by-turn directions.

PS - See the difference turn-by-turn directions make

You can try it yourself with our free mini-course on idea generation.

PPS - This is the 2nd post in a series of the 10 problems all innovation teams face. [read the next article]

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