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Capture Business Needs to Accelerate Innovation

Innovation teams we talk to are clear on their enterprise’s high-level innovation themes.

calendar icon August 28, 2017

Most of the innovation teams we talk to are clear on their enterprise’s high-level innovation themes. But they lack an established strategy for understanding and fulfilling specific needs across their enterprise. In fact, PwC’s Digital IQ Survey found that “only 40 percent of companies proactively explore new innovations with specific business needs in mind.”

Establishing a strategy and process for capturing business needs is the first step to accelerating the delivery of innovation. It seems obvious, but without understanding the demand you’re trying to fulfill, your chances of finding and delivering the right solutions are diminished. This is especially important because the more efficiently you can fulfill needs, the more you’re generating value and return on your investment in innovation.

Innovation teams need to be doing internal discovery, just like an entrepreneur would in entering a new market. This process can be likened to the Customer Development Process Steve Blank talked about in his recent On the Road Podcast. While startups need to “get out of the building” to test their hypotheses before going to market, enterprise innovation teams need to show the same relentless customer orientation within their organization. Doing so helps direct focus and ensures that you’re building an external supply of solutions that are more likely to get adopted.

Essentially, your capacity for innovation stems from the ability to identify internal needs and to gather the essential details that will help you find, evaluate and select the best-fit solutions. It starts with:

  • Engaging the right stakeholders
  • Asking the right questions
  • Understanding the problems
  • Defining the criteria for success
  • Documenting details of your needs in a systematic, repeatable way

Using a Needs Brief is one approach that our customers often use to capture the results of their discovery and map their internal demands for innovation. We have created a Needs Brief template based on best practices that you can download directly from Box (no login required). If you don’t already have a process in place, this template is a great resource to help you begin capturing needs so you can better direct your sourcing efforts.

Putting in the effort to do the research up front and capture innovation needs pays dividends. It will help you reduce inefficiencies, map innovation needs across the enterprise, prioritize what your team is working on, find and select solutions more quickly, and track results. The ultimate outcome is accelerated innovation across your enterprise and the ability to quantify the value that you’re generating.