I learned and practiced innovation using Post-It Notes and Sharpies (although it really was only a decade ago). We conducted and transcribed A LOT of in depth one-on-one stakeholder interviews and observations. We organized walls full of Post-It Notes. We tested multiple competitive products. We brainstormed over a full three day retreat. We iterated multiple product concepts and tested them against stakeholder criteria.
We preached afficiency instead of efficiency. We worked hard. We worked long. But in the end, we developed a VERY DEEP understanding of what drove value for all stakeholders and we formed a similarly deep understanding of how and why competitive products “worked” or didn’t.
Compared to newer techniques like open innovation, all that work looks unnecessary.
But there IS good reason to spend so much time, effort, and money to conduct thorough up-front research. It centers on the learned value – and establishing a process to learn value.
You may very well hear a great idea from an open innovation source, but if you do that is just the luck of the draw. How do you replicate it? How do you even know why the great idea is great?
Old School methods may be time consuming, but they tell you what stakeholders want, and why they want it – what they value. They tell you how competitors are providing that value. They tell you the key design issues to address. They give give you criteria by which you can judge the goodness of any design iteration. That sort of knowledge is invaluable!
And, with a bit of practice, they provide you a method you and your design team(s) can replicate over and over.
So, get out your Post-It Notes, get out your Sharpies, start scheduling stakeholder visits, and reserve that project war room. Paper a few walls, gain some insights, and grow your corporate knowledge base.
Go Old School.