Golf Swings and Secret Sauce
There are two major components to any innovative act. The first is the methodology that takes place as one works up to the innovation. The second component is that breakthrough idea, application, structure, or other “secret sauce” that is applied to the methodology that leads to the emergent breakthrough.
For IDEO, the widely admired and award-winning design and development firm, they describe their approach to innovation as part golf swing, part secret recipe. By this they mean that part of the work is a process they follow that can be analyzed, observed, and improved upon. The other part, the “secret recipe” is the new discovery or application that leads to innovation.
5 Steps in the Process of an Innovation Methodology
So, to understand the first part of an innovation methodology, here are the steps in the process. There is no “secret sauce” involved here—only a solid process of analysis, study, and experimentation. This process involves the following:
1. Understand the people and the climate within which you are working. You have to be able to articulate the challenge, the tensions, and the various constraints on the situation. Current realities are important to grasp from the outset.
2. Observe and listen to those you are working with, and take note of what makes them tick. What behaviors do you observe over and over. What dislikes come to the front over and over. Be able to articulate what they love and what they do not like.
3. Start imagining solutions to what you are observing. Visualize solutions to problems without using road blocks. Build a prototype of a system, a model, or an illustrated example of a “fix” to a real or perceived problem or challenge.
4. Start evaluating and tweaking the ideas that have been generated. Don’t lock in an idea immediately, knowing that it will change and will be modified. Plan on improving everything, and know that nothing comes out of the shoot perfect the first time. Watch for what begins to show promise of working, and work for incremental improvements.
5. Beta test the solution to see if it works in a real world setting. This step takes patience and partners willing to take the “look and see” risk of trying something new. Observe the new idea as it takes hold and as it takes shape. Make note of modifications that need to be made along the way.
If this process sounds a lot like good, solid research, coupled with focused hard work, that’s what it is. There is no substitute for this methodology on the path to innovation. While the secret sauce has yet to be applied, this first step is required before the breakthrough generally takes place.
What is the secret sauce? Find Out Here!
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