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For nearly 20 years we’ve worked with innovation teams nestled inside large corporations, hustling to bring new products and designs to market as quickly as possible. They have plenty of funding for research, plenty of resources for fostering innovation, and of course… plenty of red tape. Miles of tape and archaic processes that can bring any innovation train to a screeching halt. In most places, that’s exactly what happens. In the rest—it creates long, expensive, and painful invention.
Adding on top of that tape, let’s throw a life-changing event like COVID-19. That train? It’s now back at the station, completely out of commission.
Yesterday’s Innovation Style No Longer Works
Historically, companies have clung to the belief that they were the only ones that knew their customers. They could best articulate their customer’s wants and needs, and were the best at innovating in their own niche. Like those 10 coffee houses with neon signs on the same stretch of the street that claim, “World’s Best Coffee”, in the window.
But today, tight consumer markets force needed change in innovation strategies. Companies now share personas with their competitors, no longer assuming that only they can provide the “World’s Best Coffee”. Consumers have more freedom and choice than ever before, partnered with minimal brand loyalty and an insatiable demand for lightning-fast procurement.
Are you offering what customers want, at the price, look, and immediacy they want it? Is your current innovation process even allowing you to do so?
Halting innovation means organizations could be forced to lose their place at the top of the pyramid. Settling to be runner up is safe, but not how the game is played. It’s about speed, capitalizing on any available knowledge in the market and providing the best experience for your customer before anyone else does.
Enter Open Innovation.
Speed to Market is Everything
Henry Chesbrough, the Director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California Berkeley calls OI, “The use of purposeful inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation internally while also opening doors to the external for the goal of innovation.” DISHER defines OI as organizations partnering with remote or outside resources to achieve innovation goals faster and without corporate roadblocks.
We’ve had the privilege of leading companies either remotely or in-person through OI with quality, timely, and epic outcomes. Think of us as a creativity catalyst. Organizations that are looking to move to OI should choose a firm that listens and understands what they want, specializes in truly agile innovation, and has exceptional cross-industry experience. With OI, companies set their goals and leave them in the caring hands of the OI team. The result? Innovation turnaround in just a week or two compared to in-house turnaround of months to maybe even years.
How to Use OI In Your Next Innovation
- Invite a qualified OI team to help define customer pain point(s): Many companies claim to know their end-user’s challenges and struggles, but in reality, they are probable challenges generated from their own filtered perspective. To ensure the best end result, pain points should be identified by both the company and the OI team. The OI team will conduct insightful, unbiased consumer research outside the company’s own efforts, consider current, comparative, and inspirational competitors, and benchmark trends, bringing the Voice of the Customer (VOC) into the process from the beginning in order to have the most successful product at the end.
- Invite the whole team. That’s right… the WHOLE team: Innovation is often considered the fuzzy-front-end of product development. It starts with conceptual and industrial design teams who listen to user feedback and carefully and skillfully design beautiful, out-of-this-world sketches. Then, work gets handed off to engineers where the design elements might be ignored or dismissed. The key to OI is to include your engineers, designers, creatives, and even your manufacturing experts into that fuzzy work. To ensure speed to market, you have to remove the back-and-forth between design and engineering. Having your team board the train together from the beginning can help keep you all moving down the tracks in the same direction.
- Embrace compressed timelines: Having a compressed innovation timeline and focused team are the foundation of expedited innovation. That’s the secret sauce to success. An idea to a low-fidelity prototype within a week including some consumer feedback thrown in? Nearly impossible. But with OI, you’ve got a dedicated SWAT team of innovation specialists trained in what products have high likelihood of succeeding and how they can be manufactured correctly.
- Utilize and elevate user feedback gathered outside your company’s R&D walls: Those unbiased user groups and feedback clinics your OI team ran before? Take that data and the words directly from your customers mouths. (We recommend recording all of your interviews.) Put the user at the forefront of your product development. These comments and questions will be the same things your product will need to remedy in order to provide great customer experience (CX).
- Let your OI partner take the wheel even when it feels like the train is coming off the tracks: Experts in accelerated innovation swear by proven processes that when followed—create tremendous success. Failure is not an option. Audibles happen frequently, and there can be significant shifts during each phase of the journey. An experienced team can handle significant pivots without losing much speed or intensity. Trust your team and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Open Innovation is What’s Next
DISHER has innovated with organizations of all sizes and with each one, we’ve seen OI work firsthand. We thrive on the look of delight at the end of each Whiteboard Workshop™ when our customers leave with a stack of potential products and solutions, or walking through a store and seeing an invention that used to be a prototype or drawing on an engineer’s desk. DISHER has a cross-functional team of over 100 innovators, creators, and engineers ready to field your questions about OI or anything else. Just ask!