In a survey from Boston Consulting Group, 79% of executives ranked innovation as a top-three priority for their company. And yet, research suggests that most professionals are unclear about how to bring an innovative idea from concept to market. After more than 20 years in the innovation space, I’ve found that the process can be distilled into five distinct phases.
The first is often called idea development. This is when you gather raw ideas from sources like brainstorms, customer feedback, employee submission portals, etc.
Next is the concept development phase. Here is where you or your innovation team roughly expands the most promising raw ideas into concepts. By “rough expansion,” I mean that spending five minutes on a concept is too little time but investing five hours is too much. Through trial and error, you’ll determine the right amount of time for your organization to spend on this early phase.
5 phases to simplify your company's innovation process
During this phase, you’ll determine which ideas are aligned with your business strategy and you’ll apply any other criteria that your org uses to screen ideas.
The focus of your third phase is business development. Now is when you’ll build out the concepts that made it through Phase Two. That means researching and outlining customer requirements; market and revenue potential; competitive analysis; risks; feasibility; and design and patent considerations.
Phase Four is when technical development happens. This refers to design; features and functions; experimentation; prototyping; testing and feed-backing; manufacturing; and so forth.
Your final innovation stage is market development. This is typically when final refinements are made and when your marketing team creates the product or service strategy. That includes the positioning, U.S.P., target markets, sales channels, pricing and more for your new innovation.
The process I’ve outlined has five phases, but other innovators use as few as three and as many as eight. Feel free to customize the structure according to your needs after you’ve utilized it a few times. For now, use it to navigate the innovation process — from the lightbulb moment to launch day.