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Aug 01 2013

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5 Steps for Setting Innovation Goals

Innovation Challenges

Innovation is not easy, as it usually involves developing something that has not been done before with the hope that the target audiences like the end results. Not only that, throughout this journey many variables need to managed, like executive sponsorship for innovation, funding, employee motivation, customer interest, product development and marketing, just to name a few. It is challenging to make sure that these forces align. This is done by having a clear innovation goals well before you board this journey. 

Why set Innovation Goals?

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When you set a goal for innovation, it helps your employees/team to focus on the right priorities. It empowers them to make the right decisions throughout the journey, decisions that would help your organization meet the innovation goals. Without these goals your employees are lost and when it is time to make decisions they would not know how to make the right decision. So they would either go to the leader and expect them to make the right decision or they would make a decision that might be counter-productive to the overall innovation effort. In either case it would end up hurting and delaying the innovation efforts. 

5 Steps to Setting Innovation Goals

Goal setting takes some work, but once you have set the goals it helps you throughout your innovation journey. So it is wise to take time to set the right goals. 

Your innovation efforts should be geared towards delivering best-in-class customer experience, as this ensures that the customers like your innovation and they would award your their business. You can read about the innovative nine factors customer experience framework that I use for innovation here

Here are the five steps for creating your innovation goals and empowering your team and innovation efforts:

Step 1: Understand Customer Experience Needs

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Understand the unmet customer experience needs of your target segment. This can be done by talking to customers, understanding their current workflows and observing them use a current solution. You can use structured surveys to uncover the customer experience needs as well. 

This will help you understand where the customer is crying out for help, but is not getting much from the current solutions. Map the customer experience needs on the framework. 

Step 2: Understand Current Experience

Customer_Experience_FrameworkMap the customer experience delivered by the current solutions on the framework. Make sure you do this for all the current solutions that are available to the customer. 

You can understand this through customer interviews, structured surveys and by observing customer frustrations while using the current solutions. Customers might not be able to articulate their frustrations well, but they sure are good at demonstrating it to you. So make sure you see them use the current solution. 

Step 3: Identify gaps in Customer Needs

stick_figure_leap_ledges_400_clr_8870Once you have mapped the customer experience needs and that delivered by the current solutions onto the framework, the gaps in the desired customer experience will be obvious. These gaps present the opportunity for you to exploit through your innovation efforts. 

 

 

Step 4: Pick your Customer Experience Factors

gold_streak_3_150_clr_648Once you have figured out the gaps, you would be tempted to satisfy all the customer experience needs. Of course all innovators dream about solving world hunger or about ruling the world. But in this case you have to wisely pick the customer experience factors that you are going to impact through innovation.

I recommend that you pick just three factors and innovate to deliver best-in-class customer experience on those factors. This will help you focus your teams on the a few targeted factors, help you in communicating your differentiation well and make it easy for the customer to choose you. 

Step 5: Create Goals Aligned to the Factors

write_your_goals_here_400_clr_5038Once you have picked the three factors, define goals that would enable you to deliver best-in-class experience on those three factors.

For example, if you come to know that customers are finding it difficult to use the current solutions, and you chose to deliver best-in-class customer experience on the Convenience factor. Then your goal should be “Ease of Use”, and its description should be about making it easier for customers to use your solution. Not only that, you should pick success metrics that you can measure to see if you met your goals. Use these goals and the related success metrics to empower and measure your employees and your innovation efforts. 

Using this methodology to set your innovation goals will ensure that your innovation will make a difference in your customer’s lives. These goals would help you in ensuring that your innovation is moving along in the right direction. It would also help you in prioritizing overall innovation efforts. 

Let me know what you think about this approach and how you go about setting your innovation goals. You can also read about companies that have successfully innovated to deliver best-in-class customer experience in my book “Shift: Innovation that Disrupts Markets, Topples Giants and Makes You #1“.

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