The word “innovation” has been overused in some circles over the past decade; however, its relevance is still very much alive. Some companies have gone as far as to create Innovation Labs within their organizations with the sole purpose of exploring new product concepts. Although many companies have achieved great success creating their own labs, streamlining the approach to defining and validating ideas still has its challenges. Typically the reason for creating a lab is to create a singular focus on exploring and evolving ideas. Select industries have mastered the art of research and idea exploration, because innovation within their market is required not only for growth but for survival. For example, the pharmaceutical, entertainment, and automotive industries all have proven processes for creating new ideas, and test-driving those ideas in the market place. This is precisely why the automotive industry creates concept cars, and the entertainment industry runs pilot programming. This article explores several concepts of how companies can become more innovative in their pursuit of the next big idea, specifically how ideas can quickly be piloted to prove potential value within an organization.
Every industry has some way in which it goes about innovating and creating new ideas. Let’s look at the scientific community as an example, specifically the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies spend a tremendous amount of money on Research and Development (R&D) each year. For example, Merck spent $8.2 billion in 2012 on R&D, and employs 13,600 people as part of their researching efforts. This equates to approximately 17% of Merck’s revenue! I am not proposing all companies need to spend this kind of money researching new ideas or products; however, the numbers are compelling and illustrate the level of investment required by some companies to innovate.
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