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Creating a Continuous Idea Pipeline for Innovation

Creating a Continuous Idea Pipeline for Innovation

In a rapidly changing world, flooded with newer and better digital solutions, innovation is key to growth. No innovation leads to stagnation. If you don’t innovate, you’ll eventually fall behind - even if you have an excellent core business model and products that sell faster than Christmas cookies. 

But innovation is not random. It doesn't stem from one random groundbreaking idea someone had during a business meeting. Instead, it's an ongoing process that starts with having a continuous and steady idea management process.

In this article, we’ll discuss idea pipeline management and why collecting more ideas for your organization drives continuous innovation. 

What Is an Idea Pipeline

Before we go any further, let’s start with the idea or innovation pipeline definition. 

An idea pipeline is exactly what it sounds like: a framework for collecting and cultivating ideas that can help your company grow through continuous change.

You should collect ideas from everyone: your team, employees, stakeholders, customers, and social media followers. Great ideas can be found anywhere and sometimes come from the least expected party. 

In other words, your innovation pipeline is a collection of ideas that you can pull from. Take one idea, work on it, and turn it into a feature, product, or service. At the same time, as you’re pulling from the existing pool of ideas to work on, continue feeding new ideas into the pipeline. 

Also read: Goodbye Suggestion Boxes, Hello Digitalization & AI

A Steady Idea Pipeline Helps You Become an Innovation-Led Company

Creating a steady idea pipeline requires a reliable and efficient process for collecting and managing the ideas that fall into it. This process should have four key stages: collection, management, evaluation, and tracking. 

To begin with, you need to create a reliable and encouraging process that ensures a steady flow of ideas. 

Internally, this means creating a company culture that encourages bottom-up innovation rather than top-down management. Everyone in your company needs to feel like their ideas are welcome and will be listened to.  

Externally, it means creating ways for your audience and customers to share their feedback and ideas with you. This includes surveys, social media polls, interviews with potential customers, or testimonials from existing customers.  

Then, all the ideas that fall into your innovation pipeline much be objectively and effectively evaluated. Ideally, you should do so collectively to allow for different perspectives and opinions on those ideas rather than a “one person decides everything” approach

💡 An efficient evaluation process will help you objectively decide which ideas have the potential for further development.

This entire process must be monitored to ensure it’s going as expected, improve what’s not working, and track progress. 

When you have a reliable process that keeps the ideas flowing, your company benefits from innovation-led growth. With a steady idea pipeline, you'll have a large pool of great ideas ready to use. It will also help bring everyone together around a shared goal and gain a competitive edge. 

Enlarge and Enhance Your Idea and Innovation Pipeline

In the end, innovation is a numbers game. The more pipeline ideas you have, the higher your chances of finding the groundbreaking one. But enlarging and enhancing your innovation pipeline may seem like an impossible task. Because how do you even "enlarge" innovation? 

It requires you to take a proactive approach that starts with having someone oversee the process and ends with involving many people in that process. 

infographic: idea and innovation pipeline, becoming an innovation-led company

Give someone ownership of the idea pipeline 

To begin scaling your innovation pipeline, start off by assigning it to someone. This means they take responsibility, make decisions faster, and become an expert in nurturing ideas. 

Moreover, having a dedicated individual as the innovation advocate encourages everyone to be more creative and keeps things improving all the time. 

Also read: Idea Meritocracy: The Way to Collective Decision-Making

Decide on an idea campaign calendar

Another way to enlarge your idea pipeline is to create an idea campaign calendar. Start with one-time campaigns to kick things off, and then move on to continuous idea campaigns to keep the creativity flowing. 

Next, decide which campaigns will be ongoing, such as generating ideas for improving internal processes, and which will be more punctual, like planning a Black Friday sales strategy ideation session in August. 

💡 By having a well-planned idea campaign calendar, you can ensure a steady stream of pipeline ideas and make the most of targeted brainstorming sessions for specific events or improvements.

Also read: Keys for Enabling Blue Sky Thinking in Your Business

Involve many minds

The equation is simple: the more people involved in the idea collection process, the more ideas you can collect. Your idea collection process should work on both the internal (employees, stakeholders) and the external (audience, customers) front. 

You can even take it further by expanding your idea collection process with idea crowdsourcing tools or forums like Quora or Reddit, where people are eager to contribute their ideas. 

After all, diverse minds bring diverse perspectives and diverse perspectives bring out-of-the-box ideas and drive innovation - especially if they all work together to develop them. 

Also read: Idea Validation: How To Test Your Business and Product Ideas

Scale innovation at the company level 

To make innovation work at the company level, you need to adopt an innovative mindset throughout the organization. This doesn't require changing everything at once; instead, it can be approached in three horizons of innovation.

Begin with continuous innovation as a mindset, creating a company culture of constant improvement. With this foundation, you can gradually work towards more radical innovations. 

Scaling innovation at the company level can be both steady progress and the implementation of bold solutions that skyrocket your growth. When it comes to innovation, one doesn't exclude the other.

Also read: How Idea Crowdsourcing Really Works

Collect as many ideas as you can

You need a hundred great ideas to find the groundbreaking one, and it’s confirmed by psychology. The Equal-Odds Rule by Harvard’s psychology professor Dean Keith Simonton says that the more creative works you produce, the better your chances of achieving creative success. 

This applies to various fields, like composing more symphonies leading to more great symphonies. Creating more paintings leads to painting more masterpieces. Similarly, coming up with many ideas improves the likelihood of finding a world-changing one.

Based on this theory, we can confidently state that an effective idea pipeline is one that has a large number of ideas and a continuous stream of new ones. 

Then, you’ll be able to refine the pipeline ideas, evaluate them, and sort them with an efficient idea management process and a reliable idea management software like Ideanote.

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AUTHOR
Jakob Storjohann

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