Are You Exploiting Your Two Biggest Sources for Ideas?

The two biggest sources for ideas in any organisation are:

  1. Your staff
  2. Your “Lead Users”

Are you exploiting them? 

Getting Ideas From Your Staff

I’ve spoken about this elsewhere in this blog so I’ll cover it only briefly here.  In order to get ideas from your staff, you need:

  1. a way to collect the ideas that works
  2. reward and recognition that encourages staff to have ideas
  3. a vision or purpose thateveryone understands - so you get the right kind of ideas.

Do you have all these in place?  If you don’t – you could be missing out on exploiting the huge opportunity of the creativity in your staff.

Getting Ideas from Your Customers

Most businesses seek ideas from their customers.  These days, it’s given just to stay in business.  These ideas will indicate to you:

  1. pain points for customers
  2. suggestions for improvements
  3. why they might like patronising your business

These ideas generally fall under the banner of “continuous improvement”.  While good, all all these ideas will do is help you keep up with the competition – they won’t help you get ahead.

Lead Users – Customers at the Cutting Edge

For more radical innovation - you need to identify and work with your “lead users”.  Your lead users, are people who are pushing the boundaries of your product, and using it in new, and perhaps unintended ways.

The world wide web was the invention of a lead user “Tim Berrners Lee”, who needed it to help with his own research.  Post-it notes came about because an employee and 3M, used an existing invention (paper and glue that didn’t stick very well), to mark the pages in his hymn book.

 If you want to exploit this kind of innovation, you need to:

  1. Identify your lead users.  This is not usually so easy as they may be hard to find.
  2. Work with them to help them solve their problem.

The power for you, is that in the process, you will have invented a new product,  This ismuch quicker and easier than starting from scratch, and – you already have a market for it!

Need some help to identify and work with lead users? Get in touch with Cris: or (+ 61) 0438 545 607

If you exploiting both of these, and you’re still having problems with innovation, then another part of your innovation value chain must be breaking down - you need to diagnose what it is and fix it.  Our innovation diagnostic can help you do that.  Get in touch and we can set one up for you.