How to: nurture innovation in your employees' heads

15 November 2019


It is highly likely that ideas are bubbling away across all levels of your organization. Some employees will have a refreshing new take on your processes, while others will be walking round with all kinds of dormant ideas that might potentially evolve into a new business model. The major advantage of this is that these people know the context of the business inside out, which means their ideas are very likely able to be implemented. It's a question of bringing these ideas to the surface in a structured way, and then sifting through them so that only those with the greatest added value remain. How do you do that, though?

An approach that achieves several things at the same time

The goal is to be able to discuss all the ideas, get everyone facing in the same direction, and help ideas float up from the depths to the surface. There is a need for a structured approach before jumping in and implementing something. The design thinking method helps people to find meaningful opportunities that matter to both employees and customers. It is designed to tackle complex problems (along with the associated emotions, human behavior and habits) that may arise in a rapidly changing world. This method also aims to tackle the problem behind the problem, which involves drilling down into the core and tackling it with a convincing solution. The desired result can vary. You may be looking for a developed idea that you can get to work on straight away, a new perspective, the trigger for a change of mindset or an official framework for bottom-up ideas that are generally much more stable.


Design thinking in practice

In addition, a planned approach is required in order to capture these innovative ideas and be in a position to perform an impact analysis. An innovation roadmap comprises three phases; inspiration, idea development and validation. Using visual facilitation and all kinds of canvases, these phases are worked through in an interactive, stimulating manner. We presented this methodology at our Innovation Thursday in October, and we worked through a fictional case with some customers to explore together the power of this approach.

An exciting topic with a very interactive workshop! Geert Desancte, Projectleader - Meat&More

Fase 1: Inspiration

In this initial phase we create empathy and define an opportunity. We dive into the context and capture all the interesting facts. Who are the stakeholders and what is their role? What are the trends in this sector? What social and technological trends can we identify? We get to work on personas and trend analysis. From this information, we establish an opportunity, a valuable hook to which to attach your ideas.

Fase 2: Idea development

In this phase we actively get to work on existing ideas and those developed during the first phase. Creativity is king here, and anything and everything is possible. Every possibility is included on the list. While it is difficult for creative ideas to be dreamed up on the spot, there are all kinds of exercises that can be used to stimulate them, like McKim's 30 circles exercise. After the brain dump of ideas, you then scale it back by going through them and selecting, combining and voting.


Fase 3: Validation

The selected idea was the product of all kinds of brainwaves and theory elements. It is now a question of testing your expectations in practice. This can be done by making the idea tangible and developing it into a prototype. Bring it to life and describe the situation before and after the idea is implemented. What happened and how does it contribute? The business model canvas also provides a clear picture of the direction in which this would take you. A written pitch helps to convey the idea in a way that others within the organization will also understand.

After completing this process, you can be assured that the idea on the table is capable of helping to fulfill more of your organization's potential. By involving a number of different stakeholders, it has acquired traction and taken a major step forward.

Want to find out what this method could do for you?

We would delighted to give you a presentation on our approach and explain the impact it could have within your organization.

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