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2012 Innovation Resolution: Turning Ideas Into Money

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Innovation is an indispensable force that turns ideas into money. It is the lifeblood of any organization. In order to implement sustainable innovation in 2012, you need to define innovation in a manner that makes strategic sense for your organization, and have the know-how to properly construct and use a process, plus the will to keep the process on course.

The task may seem daunting at first, but it's possible to develop a disciplined strategy that delivers Innovation time and time again for sustained long-term profitability. Make developing that strategy your 2012 New Year's resolution.

"Robert's Rules of Innovation" outlines specific steps to implement Innovation. Here are some tips:

1. Define your organization's needs. What type of innovation are you trying to achieve? An incremental innovation that introduces a new process or feature? Or a transformative breakthrough that completely changes the marketplace? The latter is more difficult to achieve but holds the greatest potential. Choosing the path that makes the most sense for your organization will help in the Innovation process.

2. Formulate a new product development process. Each organization's NPD process can have a different number of steps, so long as they form a structured plan. A three-stage plan may include: Stage 1 product definition, where a product is examined for its brand strategy, profit potential, and competitive analysis. If the product is a "go" then it moves to Stage 2: the qualification process where a first article product is made and tested for quality assurance. Finally, Stage 3 is Revenue where the product is launched.

3. Create a road map to success. The key elements are examining quality of projects, capability of managing them successfully, and capacity of the organization for maintaining a portfolio of well-managed projects. No matter what NPD process you decide to use, stick to the road map to ensure that each stage, and tasks within each stage, are clearly defined.

4. Some more guidelines for progress: remember to stick to your go/no-go criteria for moving forward with developments. All projects should undergo the same scrutiny, regardless of who suggested it! Also, many organizations are incorporating a "discovery phase" into the Innovation process to allow for more experimentation. This step is beneficial for making decisions based on long-term sustainable Innovation, and not on current budget restraints alone.

In a world of increasing business competition, Innovation is key to a company's survival. Creating an Innovation strategy that makes sense for your organization is entirely feasible, and an absolute must for creating profit for your company.

Here's to a New Year of innovation!