• The Right Structure for Innovation 
    With the absence of a single and inspiring CEO, our experience is that non-hierarchical and “flat” organisations are often the most creative and innovative.  Good innovative organisations encourage debate, challenge and risk taking. They also have people and functions in place with clear responsibility for thinking about the long-term pipeline of new products and new services (and who are not judged by short term business results).  For example, the creation of global “innovation speed teams”.
  • Consumer Trends and Competitive Activity
    The most innovative organisations we have worked with have smart have people in place who take the time to truly understand the deeper needs of their customers and consumers.  This is normally combined with a passion to understand the business impact of relevant market trends and broader “mega trends”.  Conducting regular reviews of direct and indirect competition is also a fundamental step in identifying future gaps that an organisation can look to exploit.
  • A Culture to Test and Learn
    Successful innovators have a continuous “test and learn” mind-set, with a culture to always learn and “try new things”.  With some companies, such as Procter and Gamble, this is embedded into their annual business planning process, with every brand team having to present their “annual learning plan”.  On day-to-day projects, the best teams we work with regularly develop and test new concepts, with good benchmarks in place to assess the true potential of a new idea.
  • Regular Innovation Workshop Sessions
    In our surveys, most people say that running regular and well-run innovation workshops, with clear objectives and a good facilitator, provides energy and focus for new thinking.  However, to develop a stronger pipeline of ideas, it is important to use new thinking techniques and to engage with a broader team.  We also encourage the use of creative-thinking consumers and external creative-agents to get a fresher perspective at an early stage in the innovation process.
  • Training and New Thinking Techniques
    Running regular training provides one way of embedding a new culture of creativity and innovation, creating an internal cadre of internal “innovation champions” who can help cement change on a daily basis.  For example, with new skills and techniques to encourage different ways of thinking and to lead internal workshop sessions in a different way.  However, we recommend that any such training is targeted at all levels to help ensure greater commitment and “take-up”.   
  • Smart Innovation Tools and Wider Idea Collaboration
    Leading innovators are looking to embrace new technologies that will strengthen and support “front-end innovation” activities. For example, online tools that help to gather fresh consumer insights, or online idea sharing platforms that maximise the “power of minds” with collaboration across more diverse teams.  This approach can also be used to speed up early ideation to help larger organisations to more quickly identify, align and place resources behind the ideas that have greatest potential.

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In addition to the above Top Tips, other organisations that we have worked with have introduced other approaches to drive a change to create an innovative culture.  For example, changing the layout of the working environment can have a huge impact e.g. open plan but with “thinking and creativity zones”.  Other techniques include idea competitions or regular sharing of new ideas and trends at business team level.  Please get in touch if you would like to know more.


Ideas First® are a specialist creativity and product innovation agency. We are passionate about helping our clients develop innovative new ideas and concepts that are truly creative, stand out from the crowd, and that drive business growth.



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