In the Ideation Phase, opportunities for innovation are spotted by any employee within the company. Ideas can be anything such as new technology that might have customer value and/or improvements to existing processes, products or services. They can either be incremental improvements to existing products or services or radical changes such as disruptive technologies and new business models. The Ideation Phase extends across the Innovation Level into the Portfolio Level, where Innovation Coaches monitor and stimulate Idea Generation either in numbers or strategic direction through various idea generation methods. At the Organization Level, corporate management uses the feedback from Idea Generation and the existing innovation portfolio to develop and validate its vision on Strategic Drivers in the market, and defines and communicates this vision as guidelines and stimuli for the generation of innovative ideas.
Innovation Level – Idea
In the Ideation Phase, ideas are not yet called innovations. Ideas are called ‘innovations’ when they enter the Experimentation Phase, where the value hypothesis of the idea is tested in a real-life environment. In this phase, ideas materialize through clear description and refinement and through ownership: an idea cannot be realized without an owner willing to take responsibility for its realization. This owner is called the Innovator. Ideas can be shared among people, but remain floating. Innovations without an owner to drive its development have no way of succeeding. In the Continuous Innovation Framework, ownership of the innovation is one of the key principles of success.
Portfolio Level – Idea Generation
Continuous innovation requires a steady influx of new ideas into the organization. Yet great ideas and innovations cannot be commanded. They arise from acute problems and creative insight from individuals. To ensure a consistent source of ideas or a consistent source of ideas in an appointed strategic area Idea Generation proves invaluable. In this phase, Innovation Coaches assess the existing flow of innovations in the organization, determine the need and capacity for new innovative ideas and set out to acquire new ideas through a variety of methods. They can do so through organizing Idea Generation sessions, such as hackathons or field-labs, within the organization or by acquiring ideas from partners and affiliates. In doing so, they generate concrete ideas and stimulate an entrepreneurial culture and mindset within the organization.
Organization Level – Strategic Drivers
Management vision on the future market drives an organization’s strategy. This vision is fed by knowledge of relevant global industry developments, technological development and competitive actions in the current market. This vision is both reinforced and challenged by the findings of innovation within the organization. Innovation, therefore, is a double-edged sword: it serves as a control mechanism to test management hypotheses on its future vision and at the same time it serves as a discovery mechanism that presents its findings to management in order for it to refine its vision. In this phase, the Continuous Innovation Framework serves a role in exchanging this flow of information between the shop floor, where actual findings are being made, and senior management that seeks to translate vision hypotheses into concrete missions. Innovation Coaches perform a leading role in this exchange through the organization of knowledge sessions and discussions during regular COIN-rituals, such as Pitch Week and Innovation Day.