Managing The Innovation Funnel

Creativity In A Box -- The Killer Questions Card Deck

To be successful in the innovation game, you must master the process of filling and managing the innovation funnel. The funnel is the mechanism whereby you will have a continuous flow of ideas that will sustain the organization over an extended period of time. As soon as you stop managing it, or worse funding it, your future success will be significantly constrained.

innovation funnel of ideas

Managing The Innovation Funnel

The amateur innovator is a “one hit wonder”.  The professional innovator is able to create a stream of killer products.

One key is to properly manage the innovation funnel (innovation pipeline) to ensure that you have a stream of ideas leading to products.

What should be the flow through the funnel?  It depends on:

  • Your budget
  • Your staffing resources
  • Your organizations ability to absorb “new” products/ideas

If your objective is to generate one successful product each year, then the following can be used as a guideline:

  • Search/find 110 concepts (well defined and understood) [10 per month]
  • Scrub and find 11 qualified ideas from the 110 concepts [1 per month]
  • Start product development on 3 to 4 of the qualified ideas [1 per quarter]
  • Launch 1 to 2 products from the ones that went through product development [1 every six months]
  • Have 1 successful product per year

Things to keep in mind when developing a well defined innovation funnel management capability

  • Set the target for each stage of your innovation funnel
  • Ensure time and resources are properly allocated to each stage of the funnel
  • Measure, track and adjust the targets to meet your objectives
  • Hold regular audits of the funnel and check
    • Number of concepts under review
    • Number of qualified ideas
    • What is the idea mortality rate? (make sure you killing off enough ideas)
    • Measure the impact of the successes

Killer Question Of The Week

How frequently do you inspect your entire innovation funnel to ensure a regular flow of killer products?  Annually?  Quarterly?

How often to you re-align the innovation pipeline to current market opportunities and/or business priorities?  Annually?  Quarterly?

Closing Thought

“It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers”  James Thurber

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