Role of Ideation in Innovation

Empathize, define and ideate – these are the three essential elements of the creative process; necessary for any new idea to be born, any new invention or practice or process. Visualizing new ideas and brainstorming using different ideation techniques can be fruitful not just for thinking up the new, but also for improving on the old. Ideation is critical for the design thinking process and can also help to resolve challenging business problems, identify redundancies and streamline processes. Obviously, ideation is a vital cog in the wheel of innovation!

We at IdeaBridge are committed to the culture of innovation and emphasize the importance of creating effective, workable processes that result in continuous, ongoing improvement. Our structured, unique five step process helps organizations by (a) creating a challenge for a select group, (b) collecting ideas from employees and other stakeholders, (c) evaluating those ideas based on customizable evaluation criteria, then (d) implementing those ideas by defining a project team, milestones and tasks and then finally (e) transforming those into standard operating procedures; replicating them across all levels of an organization. Once in place, they become second nature for the company and its people! It is easy to see how the process of ideation is central to the processes we formulate for any of a number of reasons:

Ideation can be central to public sector /government organizations

A recent issue of the highly regarded CIO magazine spoke about the ways in which ideation processes serve to accelerate the pace of innovation in the public sector. The outside-in idea flow, is where inbound citizen or crowd sourced ideas from outside the organisation are absorbed and implemented for the betterment of the organisation. This is already a well-established practice. Experts are now speaking about the counterpart to this idea; the lesser known inside-out idea flow system where people outside the organisation derive benefit from the ideas generated within the organisation. This movement of ideas across organisational boundaries presents valuable opportunites for different government departments and agencies to improve functioning at various levels – local, state and national.

Ideation can spur growth in the professional services sector

We think of innovation as a key driver of economic growth more with regard to manufacturing industries and less so in the professional services sector because of the advisory or problem solving orientation of these businesses. The overall development of innovation processes within this sector has been historically neglected.  However, here as well, the processes of ideation and innovation are crucial. Brainstorming sessions and other ideation processes can generate positive results such as offering better value to clients. This can help gain a competitive advantage over similar professional services by differentiating the firm and the firm's products. Since the core competency of professionals in this sector relates to knowledge and information, ideating to find innovative solutions can create value and contribute significantly to increased outputs.

Ideation is crucial for product development

Perhaps the most obvious application for the ideation process is in the manufacturing sector, where there is a need for products to be constantly improved and refined not just to beat the competition but just to stay relevant! Customer needs are constantly evolving and technology improves all the time. In addition to this, government policies are subject to change at any time, tax structures may alter and regulatory systems are also prone to fluctuations. Keeping up with the all of this is not just advisable, it is necessary for survival. Factoring required changes into manufacturing processes and customer service requires constant revisiting, reworking and tweaking; without which a company cannot continue to function profitably.

BFSI also benefits hugely from ideation processes

The banking, financial services and insurance sectors also find natural allies in the ideation and innovation processes because of the need to constantly offer more attractive and lucrative products/ returns to customers. Ideation helps to spur growth, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. With the opening up of the space and the number of new players in, say, the insurance sector in recent times, the need to standout has never been as acute as it is today. It is important for companies in the BFSI space to bring together capabilities and market opportunity. The creation and management of innovation infrastructure can help to deal with new markets, rising numbers of customers and even the competition. The culture of innovation is vital for this sector also because of the way that the Indian economy continues to open up. As government policies veer closer to disinvestment in the public sector, private players need, more than ever, to capture market potential represented by customers weary of the plodding pace of nationalised banks, the dreary sameness of government owned insurance companies.

No manufacturer or service provider can afford not to keep abreast with the dynamic, constantly evolving needs of the customer base that it caters to. If innovation and ideation seem difficult at first, remember, change is hard at first, messy in the middle and glorious at the end!


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