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Why Your Good Ideas Don't Go Anywhere & How To Fix That

Is your innovation pipeline hungry for new ideas?

It begs for 10 to 15 of them each year, doesn’t it? And, it’s your job to fill it with good ideas, isn’t it?

Well, it’s not that you and your team aren’t coming up with loads of innovative ideas, it’s just that most of them end up dying before they ever make it into your pipeline.

You've probably stumbled across old ideas archived in file drawers, buried in an excel spreadsheet, abandoned on the office whiteboard, or stashed in a pile of sticky notes.

There are some good ideas in there! So, what killed them?

I’ve seen and worked behind the curtains of dozens of big brand product innovation teams and while every team faces this challenge, only a couple of teams have figured out a strategy for ensuring their good ideas survive.

I’m here to share that strategy with you.

This strategy will help you not only perpetuate your ideas but also strengthen them into meaningful innovations that’ll form your most robust pipeline yet.

Let's study the killers of your good ideas and equip you with the weapons to fight them off.

Here are the three reasons your good ideas die:

1. They're actually bad ideas

I hate to break it to you, but the number one reason why your good ideas flop is because they're actually bad ideas!

No, this does not mean we should throw them in the trash, it simply means we need to make them good.

Here are three ways to do just that:

Ensure your idea is desirable, viable, and feasible

A good idea is desirable to your customer, viable to your business, and feasible for your company produce. Does your idea satisfy all three of these criteria? If not, improve upon your idea until it does.

Know what's in it for your customer

Why should your customer care about this idea? What's in it for them? Does this idea solve a painful problem for them? Does it make their lives easier or more enjoyable? Make sure your idea brings your customer value.

Ensure your idea is actually innovative

Innovation is a new, valuable solution to a meaningful problem. Is your idea new or has it already been done? Does your idea address a problem that matters a lot to your customer? Does your idea present them with a valuable solution to their problem? Keep tuning your idea until it addresses and solves a meaningful problem in a new way.

2. They're not understood

You might be able to visualize your idea clearly in your own head, but your stakeholders probably can't. You'll need to paint the picture for them too.

The thing is, simply illustrating the idea won't ensure that your idea will be understood. You must illustrate it in a way that is communicative.

Here are three ways to do just that:

Focus the illustration on the big idea

Does your sketch illustrate the heart of the idea's value proposition or is it just a collection of disjointed thoughts? Do the hard job of clarifying your concept into one cohesive, impactful concept and then illustrate it in a way that showcases the big idea. Anything else will just distract from and weaken your idea's chances of being understood.

Make the illustration clear

How does your audience best ingest new ideas? Do they prefer to communicate with words or pictures? Do they better comprehend 2D or 3D images? Can they interpret loose thumbnail sketches or need to see realistic renderings? Choose the illustration fidelity that satisfies their preferences and then illustrate just enough information to communicate the big idea. No more. No less.

Make the illustration compelling

An illustration can be both focused and clear, but boring. Sadly, boring sketches just don't compel people to act. Whether it be through the content, the sketch fidelity, or both, make sure your concept illustration is compelling to your audience, based on what excites them.

3. They're not acted on

Ok, so you've made sure your idea is good, and you've communicated it well. The last, and maybe most important piece is that your idea needs to be acted on.

To make this possible, you need to make your idea actionable.

You need the right people to act, so you'll need to get those people invested (emotionally and physically) in your idea.

Here are three ways to do just that:

Involve them from the start

No matter how strong your idea is, people won't feel compelled to act on it if they weren't involved in the process of developing it. By involving key stakeholders from the start, you'll not only earn their interest but also be rewarded with their input and understanding, allowing you to develop an even stronger idea.

Package your idea in a story they'll resonate with

Acting on a product idea requires a LOT of effort. So much so, that people need to believe their effort is worth giving. By crafting a compelling story around your product idea, you can inspire and motivate those you need to act. To craft a story, simply share back what problem your idea solves, why your customer cares, and what makes your idea innovative.

Connect the dots for them

If you want your ideas to survive, your job doesn't end after you come up with and communicate the idea. Bridge the gap between conception and execution by doing the due diligence to flesh out the idea's desirability, viability, and feasibility. Once you've made a strong case for pursuing the idea, then de-risk the endeavor by plotting out the costs, timing, and resources needed to bring this idea to life. Lastly, project the idea's ROI and back up your projection by showing proof of the ROI that similar endeavors have delivered.

A robust pipeline requires good ideas that are understood and acted on by the right people.

Utilize these nine weapons to save your ideas from the file drawer grave, while strengthening them to form your most robust pipeline yet.


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