AMBASSADOR Blog – Innovation


Innovation By Walking About

– Do you remember a time when you had a beautiful idea? One that was so strong and powerful that you just had to make it happen?

If businesses are to thrive and survive – ideas are like the untapped mine of new products and services your customers demand. In sectors where competition is fierce – where new technologies and competitors are coupled to insatiable consumer demand, you need to get your business in a position to exploit that untapped potential – and if you are interested in maximizing your business value either for sale, or to leave a legacy, it pays to get the innovation habit.  The innovative process is what we’re talking about. It’s the engine behind much new growth and productivity gains we seek.

Ideas to Value
How we seek inspiration is an important part of the innovation journey. It is from gaining insights into potential unmet customer needs that fuels the potential output from our innovation engines. It’s also thought that “your first idea is probably wrong” that suggests the journey of an idea is fraught with difficulty.  The solution? … to generate more and better ideas… But, how do you do this? I give you… IBWA:  INNOVATION. BY. WALKING. ABOUT.

Innovation 2nd image

To switch good ideas that occasionally turn into a new product or service is fine. It’s OK for some businesses to incrementally improve their product or services – but what if you have greater ambition? What if, you have to compete against your peers in order to survive and thrive?
You need to get systematic about your ideas to value processes and engage the management and staff in ways of working that means they are always on the lookout for the product or services that customers’ value and will pay money for.  I developed IBWA as a simple acronym for a behaviour that gets your people out there. Your staff are the eyes and ears when talking to your customers or for sensing what competitors are up to.  The sales reps can IBWA. The service technicians can IBWA. The marketing manager can IBWA.

Ways to Generate Insights
I.B.W.A is so simple – but when you start you will notice a few changes. Your staff will start to want to be out there and be hungry for bringing those insights back to base. When you see the whole thing through – that is new ideas into new revenues – you will generate a climate of innovation which has other positive effects on the business.  When you have generated those insights, you need to create an environment or process for bringing them together, for example in team meetings, customer account discussions or run an ideation workshop like those by FFG.

Here are 5 ways to generate customer insight:
1. Do your homework – what do you want to know about? Then do the desktop research to get a basic education about the opportunity.
2. Go out on field visits – The consumer products company P&G spends over $400m each year on consumer insights. Few companies have that budget, but why not ask your customers if you can observe your product in use? This will generate a deeper understanding of the job they want to do and what they pay you money for.
3. Ask your customers to come in – and show them your new products or ideas and start a discussion.
4. What is social media “chatter” saying about the market? Map the trends and then look for bigger patterns in the data to reveal un-met needs.
5. Examine the trends – subscribe to business’s intelligence services to spot trends and opportunities in your market place or ones you could enter.

FFG run an Innovation Management training course and provide coaching to businesses to increase their innovation performance and business outcomes. For more information please contact:

Rob Munro
Head of Client Services – Fast Forward Growth