The title question was asked by an innovation director that Arthur D. Little (ADL) interviewed for their report From Idea to Results: Insights into World Class Idea Enrichment. This is one of three recently released ADL studies offering best practices to help companies manage innovation and research and development (R&D) processes.
Screening and finding top ideas has become ever more crucial, as managers need to translate these into real value. The report says, getting this stage right is important because it’s costly and you don’t want to waste money nor lose opportunities. The ‘fuzzy front end’ of ideation is also particularly tricky and nebulous, and it necessitates uncertainty management. Finally, putting in the groundwork to exploit ideas demands ‘drive, ambition and vision to mobilise the significant cross-functional and cross-divisional support required for success’.
How then can you make it happen? The ADL study shows that some leading companies are launching ‘time-limited ideation challenges for key strategic issues and then instituting a dedicated process to enrich and select winning ideas’. Senior leaders’ support – from ideation to implementation – and ring-fencing resources to maintain a balanced R&D portfolio are also key elements.