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Spring 2015 TayganPoint Newsletter - Q1
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Innovation on Demand

It appears unstoppable -- the accelerating pace demanded for business growth. As pressures intensify and global competition increases, it is more critical than ever for companies to innovate effectively.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of mechanisms for igniting, structuring, supporting and sustaining innovation.

In the articles that follow, we explore this topic through a variety of lenses.  First, Fostering a Culture of Innovation will offer insight on how to develop and nurture a team of creative contributors.   We also explore the unique challenges of innovating in highly regulated industries in our article, Structured Ideation: Sparking New Ideas in a Pharma Environment.  Innovation Saturation, our last article considers the question of whether or not you can demand innovation from your organization.   
 
As always, TayganPoint is committed to helping you transform your business, through new idea generation or by capitalizing on your existing breakthroughs.
 
Joy Taylor & John Cassimatis
Co-Founders, TayganPoint Consulting Group

A Culture of Innovation
By Josh Holden, TayganPoint Analyst

 

You're only as good as your next great idea.  It's been pounded into us for decades.  Innovation is the key to sustainable success. 

Companies construct vision and mission statements and define company goals around the concept and executives instruct their teams to drive productivity and efficiency through innovation.  Unfortunately, it is assumed that innovation is not only understood by everyone in an organization, but also has the same meaning.   Personal experiences, skills, and job functions all play a big role in defining what innovation really means to each person in the organization and can lead to disparate definitions.   The initiative to innovate can be far more straightforward for an executive who is tasked with differentiating products, designing infrastructures, or penetrating new markets.  Most employees, however, do not operate in this space.  The majority of the workforce is responsible for sustaining internal processes, often in the form of routine and predictable tasks, and don’t identify innovation as a part of their job description.  Building cross-functional innovation in these segments is challenging, but not unobtainable. 
 
Consider the following methods for transforming your workforce:

Find the Modernizers - Successful executives build around willing innovators, by enriching the employee experience through structured organizational and personal development.  Selecting the right people, with the drive to innovate is within an organizations grasp.  You know who they are; invite them to play.

Communicate Your Desire for Innovative Thinking - Being an innovative organization requires a proper vision and mission.  It needs to be communicated throughout existing work groups, thread through job descriptions designed to attract optimal candidates, and crafted as part of interview questions and techniques to reveal authentic innovative thinkers and candidate qualities.    Companies must also continue talking about and showcasing innovative outcomes and successes exhibited throughout the company.  If you don’t share the cool ideas, people will stop contributing them.

Overtly Create Ways to Innovate - There are many companies which sponsor “days of innovation” where work teams are compiled and fun workspaces are erected.  Ping-Pong tables, Xbox stations, whiteboard walls, old sitcoms are viewed, and drum circles experienced.  Each of these off the path idea generators offer a break individuals from daily routines and encourage a platform for employees to openly contribute their wisdom. Having fun for a day may push the creative juices further than anticipated.  Try it!

Once executives understand the steps to form an innovative workforce, they will see how vital their public commitment is to the process.  The holistic approach of aligning the right people with valuable and impactful roles, while providing resources and a development process, will over time develop an organization rooted in innovation, both culturally and strategically.  

Innovation Saturation
By John Collins, Sr. Consultant, TayganPoint

 

Whether it’s in medicine, computing or communications, we've become accustomed to the increasing pace of innovation.

So, at a time when new and often disruptive technologies seem to be appearing every day, is it getting easier or harder to innovate?

In business, innovation is the practice of taking new ideas and turning them into a product or service that has a perceived benefit that both new and existing customers will buy.  Innovation is more than a ‘nice to have’.  It’s a necessity to maintain a competitive advantage.  But the cost of exploring new ideas and productizing them can be high, and as a result, organizations are constantly forced to balance the expense of innovation with the potential rewards.

While innovation can be risky, advances in technology are making design and rapid prototyping of new products easier than ever.  The internet and social media have turned market research into an almost real time capability.  Leveraging these advances provides organizations with more agility in innovation as well as the ability to fail fast, learn, and move on if a new idea isn’t going to bear fruit.

Another key decision is whether to be a “cutting edge” or “bleeding edge” innovator.  Although cutting edge is certainly more glamorous and can bring great rewards, the risk and cost of taking a brand new concept to market may be too great.  Building on, or improving, existing ideas may be the more pragmatic course of action.

While it may be difficult to envision the new products or services that will impact our lives next, it’s certain that the ability to innovate will remain an important competitive advantage for the foreseeable future.  

In answer to the question of whether it is getting easier or more difficult to innovate, that is in the hands of an organization’s business leaders, who should be closely considering the following:  Where should my company fall on the innovation spectrum – are we cutting edge or bleeding edge innovators?  How much risk are we willing to take when creating new products?  And finally, do we have the resources and capabilities to be true innovators in our market?

Sparking Innovation in a BioPharma Environment
By Mike Kinnear, Sr. Consultant, TayganPoint

 

Fostering innovation and creativity in BioPharma organizations can be disheartening. 

Yet, the need for companies to innovate is becoming required skill and new approaches are required. The old fashioned siloed think tank and blue sky brainstorming of the past can yield poor results, especially in highly regimented and regulated industries such as BioPharma. Outcomes of these sessions typically result in a long list of ideas, often random and disjointed.  The one or two gems that are generated run the risk of being lost in translation or completely overlooked as session leaders sift through large amounts of information looking for needles in haystacks.  Worse yet is failing to deliver a plan of action, a summary of results, or a roadmap for what’s next.  The barriers to innovation success are many.  But they are not unsurmountable.  It’s all about approach - blending the inherent rigidity of the BioPharma industry with the need for new, brilliant ideas and breakthroughs – structured ideation.
 
Here are some critical steps in preparing for and conducting ideation sessions to drive innovation:

Establish Ground Rules – Your goal is to foster creativity and enable open and honest discussions to ensure that the session yields results that can be actively pursued.  In preparation for the session, clear boundaries should be set. An agenda that frames useful conversation is key.  If you are brainstorming new ideas for a proven technology in pain relief, you do not want to spend your time discussing hair growth. 

Focus on Deliverables – Typically, this includes one page “idea boards” that reflect concept summaries, possible solutions to the unmet need and visual representations of the idea.  Hiring a professional graphic design team to sit in during the session and sketch the ideas real time can also aid this process.

Break Into Segments -  In the first session, the team is divided into groups with specific areas to focus on, often an unmet user need. They spend time coming up with ideas, debating and enhancing those that resonate with the team. The remainder of this session is spent crafting the ideas into a concept. In the second session, the idea boards are presented to the overall group who decides which concepts will progress into the lab for further exploration. These idea boards should also be shared with the legal team to begin researching which are most viable and potentially patentable by the organization. 

The structured ideation approach can empower your organization’s SMEs to better channel to their energy to expand creativity, delivering direct, actionable results with recognizable business benefits.
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