When it comes to corporate innovation, a well-defined innovation strategy is crucial before embarking on any new initiative. Without a clear strategy and alignment on desired outcomes, your project could face challenges.
To ensure your team can work effectively and flexibly, you need a strong foundation and project guidelines, goals and timelines in place.
These questions play a pivotal role in gaining clarity, setting objectives, and creating a roadmap for successful innovation efforts.
Essential Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Innovation Project
1. What are the specific innovation goals and objectives we want to achieve?
Fill in the statement:
"We aim to meet [insert specific goal] by [insert date] via the following objectives: [Objective 1, Objective 2, Objective 3]."
2. What are the current pain points and challenges that your customers are facing, which we hope to address through this project?
Identify and list these pain points and challenges.
Examples: Unavailable Products, Poor Quality Experience, Long Wait Times.
3. How does this innovation initiative align with our overall corporate strategy and vision?
This innovation initiative should harmoniously align with your comprehensive corporate strategy - or you risk losing buy-in from stakeholders and team members.
Try filling in the simple statement "By executing this particular project, our team builds on the overall corporate strategy and vision [insert the strategy and vision], by means of leveraging the emerging technologies, keeping a focus on customer-centricity, as well as meeting market trends to drive sustainable growth."
4. What resources are available for the innovation project?
Before considering any other aspect of the innovation initiative, we recommend that you list and categorise the internally available resources for this project.
In turn, you are able to weigh up the Financial, Human, and Technological resources at your disposal, as well as the innovation strategy's requirements and where you may be lacking some essential skills and expertise.
5. Who are the key stakeholders and decision-makers involved, and what are their expectations?
List the internal stakeholders and their expectations. Seek clarity around these stakeholders and their goals, if needed.
6. How do we measure the success of the innovation initiative?
What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use? We recommend that you not only list those KPIs, in detail, but also align with stakeholders around the clarity of these.
7. Who is the target market or audience for the project, and what are their needs and preferences?
In order to get a full picture on the target audience, you can unpack and utilise the following template:
Demographics: Age; Gender; Income; Education; Occupation.
Psychographics: Lifestyle; Values; Interests; Attitudes.
Location: City/Region; Country; Urban/Rural.
Behaviour: Buying; Online; Loyalty.
Pain Points: Challenges; Frustrations; Unmet Needs.
Goals: Short-term; Long-term.
Communication: Channels; Social Media; Language spoken.
Influences: Key Figures, Information Sources.
Description: Brief segment overview.
Rationale: Why this audience matters to your innovation project.
8. What existing technologies or innovations in the market are relevant to the project, and how can we leverage them?
Analyse, unpack and list the relevant technologies currently being used by the target audience. Are any of these technologies available publicly? How could the team 'plug-into' and leverage those technologies to gather insights and learnings, before developing a whole new technology or product, from scratch?
You could also ask, how do these innovations or strategies currently service the market and where are they missing customer pain points?
9. What potential risks and challenges could arise, and how can we mitigate them?
Although you cannot predict the future, you can prepare adequately to mitigate known risks.
10. How will we foster a culture of innovation within the team?
Encourage team members to contribute their ideas. This can be by means of an innovation pipeline or assigning specific key metrics to team members.
11. What methodologies or frameworks will we use to facilitate the innovation process?
Consider methodologies like design thinking, lean startup or agile or a mixture of them all at various stages of the strategy.
12. Are there any regulatory or compliance considerations to address?
List these and integration plans into project timelines.
13. What are the estimated timelines and milestones for the innovation project?
Maintain a high-level timeline for simplicity, yet ensure that there are clear milestones and deadlines to keep the team on track.
14. How will we communicate progress and results to key stakeholders and the wider organisation?
At this point, you can deeply define the metrics and goals that indicate a successful project and strategy.
This allows you and your team to measure the key results and goals throughout the project timeline, as well as keep a focus on the main objectives of this initiative.
At Delta Innovate, we kickstart our innovation projects with a discovery process that addresses the critical questions outlined in this article.