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Identifying problems is the key to successful corporate innovation strategies

*This article was originally published on prooV’s website on 29/09/2018. prooV merged with QAssure to become 1TX in July 2022.*

For those who are new to the idea of creating and implementing an innovation strategy, it may seem like the natural first step is to brainstorm new, disruptive ideas to develop.

But the best way to map out an effective innovation strategy is to identify problems and solve those with innovation.

Read on to learn why this strategy works for so many innovative enterprises, and how you can use it in your company.

Why You Should Focus on Problems

Trying to innovate through brainstorming and other divergent thinking methods tends to take companies down a road where they trying to predict the future.

But there needs to be a strong foundation guiding an innovation strategy, especially when technology is advancing at such an explosive rate.

Innovation strategies should focus on exploring problems that either exist or are likely to arise with emerging markets, and innovating solutions to solve those problems.

For example, it is expected that a live version of quantum computing that will make our current encryption technology look like something out of the Stone Age will be a reality in five to ten years.

If quantum safe encryption becomes the new standard, new software languages and protocols will be required to operate it, and that is an opportunity for innovation.

In the case of quantum computing, an IT innovation strategy should be focused on creating solutions now for problems that are in the pipeline as technology is being developed and eventually brought to market.

How to Explore New Problems

One of the cardinal rules of innovation is to embrace failure.

That means exploring ideas to their logical end, learning from mistakes and taking those lessons onto the next big idea. As innovation expert Greg Satel says, “Instead of trying to get every move right — which is impossible in today’s environment — we need to try to become less wrong over time.”

Traditionally, companies have made decisions based on statistics. They gather data, crunch the numbers and make their move, but this process doesn’t keep pace with innovation.

Subsequently, many companies are bringing the Bayesian approach to their innovation strategies in order to help focus on emerging problems.

This method uses initial data to calculate probability and constantly update as new information is gathered. You might not be dead-on right every time, especially early on in the process, but as more data comes in, you will be less wrong.

With the Bayesian approach, companies can actively explore problems and learn from mistakes, thereby putting the focus on innovation that addresses existing needs and challenges.

Perhaps most importantly, addressing existing and/or emerging problems also allows you to move to accurate testing scenarios more quickly.

By the time you get to the proof-of-concept phase of innovation, after deciding what problem you want to address with innovation, you will understand the challenge well enough to create testing environments that reflect the exact problem scenarios you are trying to address.

There will be less guesswork and more practical problem-solving.

Problem-Solving Ideas Are Greater Than Stand-Alone Ideas

Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Charles Schwab and other great thinkers with disruptive ideas were successful because they were able to identify problems that others hadn’t even begun to consider.

You can use this same approach to create an innovation strategy that produces real solutions.

The next big innovation will be a solution to an emerging problem, so make sure your focus always is on identifying problems that need fixing rather than coming up with stand-alone new ideas.

To learn how 1TX can support your corporate innovation strategy, contact us today!