Extracting innovation is a simple process.
As I indicated in my last post, it is quite possible that you already have an innovation pipeline, but either A) you are unaware of its existence or B) you do not believe that the ideas already in the pipeline are any good since they are not new enough.
Let’s start with B because it’s the less difficult option (well, to me, at least). Therefore, before you do anything else, compile a list of suggestions from your staff. You are looking for fresh ideas because you don’t like the ones on that list for whatever reason, whether it’s because those ideas are bad, because your competition is already using them, or because they aren’t innovative enough for you. But I also bet that you are worried that if you go back to your employees (ahem – inventors) and tell them that either A) they will shut up and NEVER give you any more ideas, good or bad, or B) they will give you even more terrible ideas, and you’ll have to come to the conclusion that they weren’t all that good, to begin with. The feedback loop is necessary for innovation.
Be calm. You have absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Feedback is very important to inventors. In my experience, they crave feedback more than nearly anything else; at least, most of the ones I know do. There are others who are more motivated by money, but we can discuss those in a later piece.
Therefore, PROVIDE them with feedback. Tell them that their proposal is either unoriginal or that one of their competitors is already working on something similar. Simply make some sort of statement to them. Inventors have an insatiable need to know the outcome of their ideas, whether positive or negative.
After receiving that feedback, they will reevaluate their process and develop new ideas. You’ll see. As soon as you clear out the existing ideas in your pipeline by implementing new solutions for those ideas, a deluge of new ideas will suddenly appear…