For business ideas generation, team based and cross-functional workshops is one of the most effective ways to think outside the box. Combined with an effective prioritisation process, including group debate and ‘poster voting’ as an alignment tool, the ideas can be refined and prioritised. This was the first element of a special Rapid Commercialisation event run by the Business Best Practice Network.
An ideation workshop designed to improve speed to market begins with a brainstorming session to explore how an organisation’s existing and potential capabilities can be commercialised. Assembling a cross functional team ensures that ideas and input comes from many different perspectives.
Getting Ideas Outside the Box
Key issues to consider include identifying products and solutions that can be delivered by the organisation and appeal to a broad audience of business users. Ideation is all about breaking the trend and targeting the ideal customer with an offer that stands out.
The focus is to highlight what the company already does well and then package it so that more prospective customers realise the benefits. Without ideation the temptation is to develop a commercial plan for the plain and obvious but this can result in missed opportunities. Why is that? – Any organisation that has delivered a product or service for a while will develop a ‘group-think’ perspective about what they do. By stepping back, and involving outsiders, new insights can be highlighted which will be more differentiated and more likely to stand out in the market.
Discussing ideas with individuals from completely different industries is an illuminating process and a great way of helping you to discover things you hadn’t previously considered, as well as seeing entrenched ideas in a new light. As one attendee at the event, Mike Soames of Bluewater Marketing, commented: “The group – with around 12 being an ideal number – was made up of good, positive people, and we soon developed a camaraderie which helped facilitate some very frank and open discussions.”
This was echoed by another delegate David Blakeman of RPS Software: “Maybe there are two sorts of approaches. One for a corporate setting, where a whole team gets together, and one for smaller businesses where a couple of key members mix and maybe work on each other’s problems? An outside perspective is really useful.”
The more the ideas, the better
Several delegates also saw the benefits of having ‘multiple inputs’ to a discussion, and the fact that every idea had its merits. This led to the view that the sum of a number of ideas can create a unique proposition, yet individually these ideas would not stand out.
As another delegate Steve Morgan of SWM Solutions commented: “We can all have different perspectives on the same questions”
“I would describe the event as a way of getting those ideas that you have out on the table, in front of professional business owners. This gives the idea a real chance of becoming reality, or of you putting it to bed as a non-starter.”
Delegates also saw a role for the ideation process within an internal business setting too, where it could act as an excellent way of encouraging teams to truly engage with where the company is heading, as well as making the whole decision making process far more inclusive and empowering.
From Ideation to Prioritisation
Having recorded the ideas, delegates were divided into two smaller groups. The groups were asked to prioritise the ideas which had come out of the ideation session, before deciding which concept they thought was ripe for commercialisation. Each group were then given 45 minutes to develop their concept, along with a value proposition and positioning statement. The value proposition is key to all of a business’s marketing activity. It is about capturing why your ideal client should buy your product or service and explaining (often by inference) why your offer is better than any alternative.
Key Learning Points:
Group discussions are the best way to generate ideas
The process of ideation can help you avoid missed opportunities
Effective prioritisation is key to converting ideas into revenue