Innovation without the bullshit

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The words used to describe innovation processes are normally so long-winded and full of acronyms, that it sounds like we are developing a new spaceship, not a tin of beans.


Innovation and insight are probably the most overused words in the FMCG World.

In fact so much rubbish is spoken around both topics, that common sense is often completely lost.

Over the last couple of years, we have being asked to help many of the world’s largest FMCG manufacturers to evolve their stage gate process so they are “more agile” “disruptive” “consumer connected”, allowing them to “fail faster”.

No one will argue with the logic of these goals.

But the words used to describe innovation processes are normally so long-winded and full of acronyms, that it sounds like we are developing a new spaceship, not a tin of beans.

At Watch Me Think we try to avoid bull, horse or any other kind of  rear-end-product as much as possible; so I thought I would summarize 2 key lessons that have been learned from this process.

 

1) Many innovation processes do not build in the opportunity to observe the performance of prototypes and products in the natural environment and time of consumption.

4 years since we launched WMT, I am still astonished that for many companies this remains to be true.

If you cannot see how the packaging and products really perform, when they are being used by the target audience, in the natural environment of consumption, why are we so surprised that so many crap products make it all the way onto our supermarket shelves?

Many research methods employed are brilliant at covering arses, providing something to point at if the plan fails … but they don’t actually show how it made people act and feel.

Building observations of early prototypes into the innovation process, in a way that can be shared with everyone, from the factory to the boardroom, dramatically reduces risk and connects the entire business and external stakeholders with the real consumer experience.

 

2) You have to learn from your mistakes and successes.

The post launch review is the almost universally ignored part of the stage gate process.

This defies logic.

The post launch review is the perfect opportunity to understand what does and doesn’t work.

The perfect opportunity to gain heuristics that can be also be applied to future projects.

We could develop an acronym filled PowerPoint to describe how we are improving our clients innovation process…  but it’s not really us…

We’ll stick with just one:

Simple, Effective, Common Sense Solutions –  SECSS.

Yes, all the best presentations have SECCS in them 🙂