Innovation in companies is tricky. There are rarely brand new ideas. What we often deal with are old ideas with a new twist. Knowing this, we see the best results usually come from connecting lots of previously done ideas in new ways. Innovation through iteration is where the spark of “innovation” is at its brightest.
We usually recommend avoiding solutions until you know what the problem is. But sometimes, ideas or solutions take root and we have to figure out, will it work?
In this case, we are fans of applying our version of the HCD process:
- LOOK: Spend some time internally understanding what current problems your idea is solving.
2. ASK: Your ideas from step 1 are your assumptions and hypotheses. These need to be validated with actual customers. To this end, you’ll have to reverse engineer (from your solution) questions to ask your users to uncover whether or not there is a need. Practically speaking, once you’ve identified which problems you think your idea solves, craft questions to determine if these problems exist. This will help you determine whether your idea is a “need to have” or a “nice to have.” The “need to haves” are usually more pressing, and the “nice to haves” the delight that makes your user experience stand out from the competition. Both are important, but the “need to haves” will be the priority.
3. LEARN + PROTOTYPE + TEST (& ITERATE): Gather your findings, and if you find (in step 2) there is a real need that your new idea will solve, create, test, and iterate on solutions to fill that need.
Innovation through iteration can be as simple or complex as time, budget, and your patience allows. It can be done in a day or a month with varying levels of validity. The key to remember here is that it’s better to validate a solution before spending money and time implementing something your customers don’t need or want.