3 min read

Re-thinking Innovation

Re-thinking Innovation
Maggie Franz

Maggie Franz

Photo by Kyle Popineau

Keys for Successful Innovation Projects

Just for a moment - let’s try a quick exercise together. Close your eyes, and imagine an innovation project or challenge…
What comes to mind?

There’s a pretty good chance that you picture a group of enthusiastic people gathered together, creatively brainstorming a list of new ideas. You may or may not have envisioned large pads of paper, white boards or even post-it notes as the recording method of choice. You may have even dreamed up exercises, toys and/or food to stimulate creativity and jumpstart the idea creation process. After all, this is what innovation has come to look like for many companies - the emphasis placed on the idea generation process.

Ideation is and should be fun, it’s one of the reasons that we designed and built our custom Svava platform. But ideation, is one part of the process. There are steps that should come before and after this phase. All too often, we want to jump right into the ideation, because it’s the most exciting part.

Back It Up a Step

Before you bring together a team, and set them loose on an innovation project, it’s important to construct a framework. With Svava, we call this the “Creative Brief”. This is an important first step of the innovation project. To formulate the Creative Brief, there are a number of key parts that you should formulate.

Parts of the Creative Brief:

  1. Title - Gives people a quick idea of what the project is all about, helps you refer to the project as work towards its completion and serves as a historical reference.
  2. Photo - many people are visual learners, and providing them with a visual conceptualization of the project will help spark their creativity.
  3. Specific description of the project that includes the desired outcome
  4. Coaches or admins - resources that can answer questions and provide guidance.

Ideation and Curation

Whether you believe that there is no such thing as a bad idea or not, there are ideas that are off topic, or distract from the goal of the project. Constructing a descriptive creative brief will help to discourage these ideas from your participants, but you will need a project manager or administrator, someone we call a coach, to moderate the ideas during this phase of the project.

The person you choose to be your coach for the innovation project is important. A positive yet constructive coach that can identify an idea with potential and encourage the group to cultivate it is crucial. If your coach is too negative when distracting or detracting ideas creep up, you might potentially stifle one of your ideators.

After some length of time, you’ll want to close the call for new ideas and encourage your participants to vote for, or provide feedback on, the ideas that they think have the potential to become a fully fledged product, service, policy, procedure, etc..


The nitty, gritty phase, where most innovation projects fail, is the implementation phase of the project. As we stated before, because the ideation and curation phase is more exciting, this phase often receives the emphasis.

Many projects fail during the implementation phase because of project management. You need to put together a team with different skills, to make sure that the idea selected from the previous phase is completely thought out, planned and implemented in the most efficient and effective way possible.

This phase is often too short or too long. Products are taken to market too soon, causing them to miss key features and functionality that consumers deem important. Take Nest for example, the automated home thermostat system. Nest was not the first automated thermostat, but it had features and functionality that set it apart from its competitors, including a sleek and modern design that was unique. Nest was much more expensive than many of the other automated and programmable options on the market, but the options, the features and benefits that it provided, made it a home run with consumers.

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