Creative strategy meeting

When creativity meets strategy

Rapid development of new products or services can help support long-term strategy. Gary Wilson, Head of Financial Services and co-founder of London-based innovation consultancy Fluxx, explains how any company can not only generate rapid-fire ideas but also validate and incorporate those ideas into a solid business strategy.

When it comes to business strategy, one could argue that all ideas are bad until put into practice and proven otherwise. The key to success then is the ability of a company to generate ideas quickly and develop them into prototype products that can be validated as soon as possible. However, many businesses lack any such agility.

Rethinking your approach to innovation is key. Very often this is a case of big companies thinking like the smaller companies they once were. A start-up business would seek the quickest and cheapest way of testing an idea, and it’s possible for larger companies to do the same. More complicated requirements, or a longer chain of command can often result in bigger business missing opportunities for innovation.

By drawing upon the right people within your organisation and asking the right questions, large companies can adopt the flexibility required to generate ideas, develop testable products and services, and collect feedback that can then be incorporated into strategy. Companies can hold idea-creation workshops by gathering a cross-section of personnel in order to build ‘minimum viable products’, that is, products developed with enough features to stimulate feedback from real users.

It’s likely that your company is bursting with ideas, but that you don’t have any kind of mechanism to collect and prioritise them. A typical workshop could involve gathering personnel from various sections within the company, from marketing to call centre, from HR to accounts, and together brainstorming ideas for new products or services within a limited period of time. The best ideas produced can then be pitched to executives, who may approve them for further customer testing. Once tested as propositions, those ideas may eventually become successful additions to the company portfolio.

Companies looking to generate feasible ideas quickly and incorporate the market response into a long-term strategy should look first to their customer-base. Don’t just ask customers what they want, observe how they actually respond to early incarnations of your ideas. Rigorous measurement of those responses often throws up surprises and hard evidence always supports strategy better than any forecast. Any business, regardless of size, can innovate quickly if they adopt an agile frame of mind.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK