Digital technologies are changing every industry. This is not just impacting the tools that they have but also their business model. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles; AirBnB, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate; Facebook, the world’s most popular content provider, creates no content; and Instagram, the world’s most valuable photo company, sells no cameras. Companies don’t operate in the way that they used to. Large companies face intense competition from startups and internet companies, who bring with them new business models, agile processes and the ability to release products rapidly. In response, these companies are looking to learn from the creative skills of startups and combine that with their strengths as an enterprise. One method of doing this is to create innovation programmes to explore new ideas quickly.
Innovation Lab is a unique workspace environment that allows corporates & individuals to experiment with new ideas and business models outside of their usual corporate structures. If you are setting out to create an innovation programme, often the first step is to create a space for the team to operate in. The focus here is to create a space where people feel comfortable, inspired and create an environment to generate ideas. No matter how trivial they might sound, in our opinion, this can only be achieved by finding a space that can be dedicated to the innovation, rather than a few desks or an area within the usual environment. You want people to come into the space and to visually immediately recognise that this is different to the ‘standard’ ways of working.
In terms of the team itself, like any agile team, you want a dedicated, cross-functional team. It is difficult to make any real changes if the team itself is not dedicated to focusing on exploring innovation ideas. If they have other commitments as part of the company’s daily business activities, then when push comes to shove they will be asked to focus on those activities. However, we know that innovation does not happen overnight; instead, innovation is usually the result of a continual exploration of new ideas and through teams continually challenging the norms. In addition, you need a mixture of people with different skills in the team. We often talk about cross-functional teams being a mixture of marketing, sales, designers, software developers, finance and business analysts. These roles are useful but it’s also good to consider having people from different departments or with a strong network in the organisation.
During the initial setup a tailor-made lab framework is designed together with the company’s key stakeholders and the team. In this phase, the most suitable participants are selected and the topics, desired outputs, and the project scope are defined. In the exploration phase the selected teams seek to understand the underlying customer ambitions and challenges. Inspired by new trends, technologies, and best practices they find potential solutions to solve the problem. Through customer-centric experimentation and iterative validation they develop new ideas, concepts, and business models. Using your own in-house Lab, the team will design and develop innovative solutions and accordingly prototypes will be created.