Here is a picture of our reception floor of our new office in the Idea Couture building. We're all least 4 weeks away before we  are done with the place. This is the final of the three part series. We surveyed to find out what are the most popular innovation tools and the least understood innovation tools, if you don't know about any of these tools on the list, you are not alone because there are many others like you.

Why are these the Top 5 least understood? Think about it, innovation is an emerging field. Therefore, at any given time, new tools are being developed, tested and refined in response to new kinds of problems, advances in technology, or as older methods are upgraded or mothballed. Other reasons include:

  • Lack of exposure
  • Newness of tool
  • Has been recently adopted from another discipline
  • Requires a unique skill set to execute successfully
  • Requires rigorous adherence to a structured methodology

Is a method of identifying and interpreting ‘signals’ from a variety of social, cultural, technological and/or business contexts to help inform, influence and inspire a product, service, marketing or other opportunity. Signal Scanning collects information, interprets information and gives meaning to information, thus helping teams build awareness, organize uncertainties, and re-orient perspectives and assumptions.

When to use it: Scanning is basic research that happens at the front end of any innovation engagement. It sits within the Insights and Inspiration Phase. It can be conducted in tandem with ethnographic and/or co-creation research. It helps shape the kinds of questions that are explored in ethnographic and/or co-creation research. It can also be an ongoing process that increasingly builds internal knowledge and awareness on any specific field of research.

Why use it: Where most businesses are enamoured with watching and analyzing the trends of today, scanning provides a competitive advantage by helping organizations to better envision tomorrow. With a focus on the ‘emerging’, scanning empowers teams to more deeply, analytically and imaginatively consider the factors that might play a role in shaping future business opportunities.

is a tool (it is a tool but also a research/design approach) that directly involves consumers in an iterative process of designing and refining the concepts that will best fit into the context of their lives and needs. By acknowledging the value of customer input in the early stages of development, co-creation turns the top-down orthodoxy, of undifferentiated brand offerings on its head and offers a much higher likelihood of bringing relevant products and experiences to market. The reason this is not so well understood is that it is not a common practice for companies to include customers as part of the value chain.

When to use it: It can be used in the early stage of idea generation to the final stage of idea validation.

Why use it: Like ethnography, Consumer Co-Creation should be used as a way to cultivate empathy for consumers. Co-Creation is used to:

  • Better understand social, cultural and behavioural drivers of use & adoption when ethnographic research is not recommended or possible.
  • Gather consumer/expert/lead user input into the design of a product, service or experience
  • Explore potential tangible outcomes in packaging, ingredients, communications, display, retail, naming, CSR, service etc.

is the activity of framing observations and situations, and grounding them in meaningful ways, that help people understand and gain insight into an activity, behavior or system. In short, Sensemaking is the process by which people give meaning to experience. Many times problem spaces can be described as either informationally scarce, working at a deficit, or working from an overabundance of information. Often there is  an overabundance of market research information, requiring a more focused and convergent approach to information and pattern definition. In both cases, recognizing and revealing the patterns are essential to developing insights and making sense of the research landscape.

The reason that Sensemaking activities are difficult is because it is dealing with many conflicting and unstructured data. Providing opportunities for people to Sensemake and infer meaning from unstructured information, allows them to hone their pattern recognition skills, contributing to their professional growth, and the professionalization of the organization.

When use it: Typically used as part of the opportunity mapping stage.

Why use it: It is an effective way to synthesize information into something people can understand in terms of the what and how value is being created.

is about preparing, not predicting. It is about establishing well-informed future oriented perspectives that fuel, guide, and inspire innovation processes, planning and decision-making. It helps organizations better understand, imagine, anticipate and prepare for change by equipping their teams with the tools and resources needed to ask provocative questions, challenge dominant logic, test assumptions, rethink opportunities, reset goals, and explore meaningful alternatives.

The reasons why Strategic Foresight is difficult to understand and execute is that it requires rigor and adherence to a set of steps and methods, beginning with problem definition, and scope.

When to use it: It can be used at the front end of innovation as a way to uncover relevant and pertinent research questions and define the problem space. It can be used to fuel innovation processes, and as a post innovation exercise to extend future contexts or to verify validity of strategy, products and services.

Why use it: The process allows people to ask provocative questions, challenge dominant logic, test assumptions, rethink opportunities, reset goals, and explore meaningful alternatives, to many possible futures. 

Gives research and design teams a tool to intentionally, creatively and playfully collide (draw inferences) different, product, service and consumer culture experiences that are not normally considered together. Innovation is often born where these normally disparate categories intersect; a deliberately counter-intuitive methodology, which forces people well out of their comfort zones and challenges them to override their left-brain, analytical bias in favor of a more open-minded acceptance of contradictory, illogical ideas.

When to use it: Opportunity mapping phase or before/during ideation 

Why to use it: To leverage zones of opportunity, flesh out sub-ideas, and to get you outside your ‘box’ or mixing 'boxes'.

Original Post: