Product Development | Innovation Strategy
 
 

An Innovation Framework

People often think of product development as coming up with an idea, then developing that idea into a ‘thing’. In reality this view is limiting because it doesn’t provide a framework for generating the ideas in the first place, or for knowing if that ‘thing’ is what people really want.

Companies who have launched off the back of one successful product may find themselves with no structure in place to create their next revolution. And eventually product development can become reactionary, based mainly on tweaks or performance enhancement requests from customers. 

Your clock is a gift, and we hope it comes in handy for keeping track of time. But a clock also represents motion, change and potential.  And we'd like to use it to introduce you to a useful framework for a bolder, more intentional type of innovation. One that doesn't wait for the next change request or Eureka moment, but instead puts businesses in a position of leadership.

We call this type of innovation Futuremaking. And the pictorial on your clock face is the beginnings of it. 

 
DSC_0010_web.jpg
 

Mining For Opportunities

The clock face is comprised of four sections. At the central section is the question Why? Then, moving outward, we have How?What? and Who?

Each of these sections represents an layer of your business. To build a framework for innovation we first need to create a comprehensive understanding of each of these layers. And this usually comes through a period of focussed research. We call this mining. 

Each of the layers is explained below. You will also notice lightbulbs on each layer. These represents opportunities for change and innovation, and they exist at every level. The purpose of mining is to identify these opportunities. 

Opportunity.png
 
Why_Icon.png

Why?

The question is: “why do we do what we do?”. This is a fundamental question that affects the very core values of a business. Is your reason only to make money (a very valid answer) or is there another belief that underpins why you do what you do?  

This is question to ask yourself, but also one to ask company-wide. And it may be that the answer is not unanimous throughout; particularly if your organisation is large. But in creating a framework for purposeful innovation, it helps to permeate a shared sense of purpose throughout. 

This is a not an overnight job. It can take time to determine and wrap words around your corporate answer to the question why? (it did for us). It also takes a certain amount of leadership to model that answer and a progressive shift in culture over time. 

 

At Fearsome our answer to the question why? is that we believe design can play a crucial role in making things better for people. 

How?

The question is: “how do you do what you do?” and it has everything to do with your organisational culture. In a sense, it can be thought of as how do you go about achieving your ‘why’? What are the cornerstones of your business practices, and how do these play out practically every day?

Again, for many companies the answer to this question may not yet be defined. But all businesses have ways of doing things, whether they’ve wrapped a description around them or not. And if we want to create an intentionally innovative culture, then it helps to be intentional about our practices, and figuring out if our existing ones are actually achieving what we want them to achieve. 

At fearsome we have 4 main cultural cornerstones: Rapid design iteration, technical rigour, collaboration, and fervent people-centricity.  This is how we go about we go about achieving our why? of making things better for people. 

What_Icon.png

What?

The question is: “what are you selling?”. The answer to this comes at two levels: Firstly, what are the products or services that you are selling? This is probably the thing you’re most used to thinking about when it comes to your business. It’s the tangible outputs of your organisation that people or other businesses trade money or other commodities for.

But it’s also very useful to think of ‘what?’ as what benefits are we bringing to people through our products or services? Or what change does our product or service enable? This is about being customer-centric: about beginning to understand what it is your customers truly want. And the answers to this question are usually more hidden; perhaps requiring research. But beginning to answer this question is the basis for successful, pro-active innovation. We’ll go into this in more depth later.

 

At fearsome our main commodities are innovation strategy for organisations and the development of products. We call these Identifying Opportunities and Enabling Change. 

What_Icon_1.png

Who?

The question is: “who are your stakeholders?”. Classically we think of the ‘who’ as end users, and rightly so as their feedback into our product development is critical. However, it’s important for any business – and especially those involved in B2B selling – to consider other key players in the scene. Who is making the buying decisions? Who is regulating the industry? Who is distributing the products or managing the people using them?

 

Again, establishing the ‘who’ sometimes takes a bit of thought and research. But once you’ve figured out who these people are, this    

 

Their feedback into our product development is crucial. But for many businesses, the stakeholders are also