Understand the ten types of innovation as expressed on the popular Innovation Wheel. These innovation types often overlap and require a holistic...
So, What Exactly is an Innovation Toolkit?
In an age of jargon and corporate-speak, few buzzwords are less well-defined than innovation tools or innovation toolkits.
Depending on who you ask, an innovation tool might be an actual piece of software developed to assist the planning and management of innovation projects, or it might be a methodology that should be applied when executing on those projects.
An innovation consultancy may readily refer to the skills, formulae, and techniques they’ll use in working with you as “tools”, whereas for a SaaS company like Papillio, an Innovation Toolkit is an actual cloud-based software platform with integrated tools intended to aid in innovation and other organisational functions.
In truth, the overlap between tools and methodologies is a wide one, with the former enabling the implementation of the latter.
But what does this mean, and how does it actually look in real life?
As far as innovation methodologies go, there’s a near-infinite list of different techniques and models with which the modern business can plan out and execute their innovation projects.
As examples, we’ve selected four methodologies from near the top of that list – just to help illustrate what these “tools” can look like and how they are intended to be employed.
The focus of Six Sigma innovation methodology is in identifying the underlying source of a pain-point or problem. Developed from 19th century theoretical mathematical work, Six Sigma is considered to be one of the most effective methods for introducing improvements to efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Six sigma employs a DMAIC methodology. The steps involved are:
- Define the problem.
- Measure the data.
- Analyse the data.
- Apply the data-based Improvement.
- Monitor the solution and Control for future improvement.
Design thinking is probably the most popularly known and widely utilised methodology within innovation circles. This is because of its strong focus on using a design mindset to place the end-used at the centre of the entire process solution creation. In fact, the Papillio Innovation Toolkit was developed with a strong emphasis on enabling design thinking – hence our digital whiteboards are also referred to as Design Thinking Canvases.
Innovation projects that are developed using design thinking follow these 5 important steps:
- Empathise with the customer or user, putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their worldview and interactions with your organisation.
- Define the problem that they are experiencing – the need that must be fulfilled.
- Ideate solutions to the problem, brainstorming with colleagues and clients alike, to arrive at an ideal conclusion.
- Prototype your solution/s by building models – theoretical or otherwise – that can be stress tested.
- Test your protypes to determine if they are adequate to meeting the defined need.
The Lean start-up methodology is unique in that it is specifically intended to be applied to (as the name implies) start-ups. While it can be adapted and applied to product development, helping to reduce development lifecycles, where it really shines is in rapidly identifying the viability of a proposed business model.
It does this through a simple three-step process of build-measure-learn, based on the model’s underlying assumption that rapid iterations meeting the needs of early customers can be used to reduce market risks and sidestep the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and financial failures.
Now, in answering the question in the heading, innovation tools are what comprise an innovation toolkit. Individually, these tools ease or enable the execution of certain business functions that will enhance innovative capacity. But when integrated into a comprehensive innovation toolkit, these tools can enable an organisation to bring the fundamentals of innovation to every area of the business as well as improving overall business functions and agility.
Broadly speaking, innovation tools can be subdivided into two categories.
Innovative collaboration tools
Collaboration is so integral to innovation that many innovation toolkits only include functionality that enhances collaboration.
An effective collaboration tool should offer as many avenues as possible for interaction between team members. And, in this day-in-age, a collaboration tool is next-to useless if it does not enable collaboration between employees working to different schedules and possibly from different time zones.
Collaboration features and tools can include:
- Text chat
- Video chat
- Digital whiteboards
- Online sticky notes
Innovation management tools
One the greatest difficulties companies face when innovating, is in keeping their innovation teams and projects under control and on-point. For as many reasons as there are businesses, innovation projects often find themselves misaligned with organisational goals, offering no RoI, or exceeding the initial envisioned budget.
So, while innovation often takes place in a creative space where neither team members nor leaders are very welcoming to micromanagement, decision-making oversight is still absolutely necessary, if for no other reason than to occasionally nudge teams back on track.
This is why it was so important for us at Papillio to ensure that our innovation toolkit included management functionality integrated with the platforms collaboration features.
Innovation management features are similar to project management software that you may already be familiar with, including:
- Task management boards .
- Customisable project calendars.
- Top-down view of ongoing projects.
Manage the methods with the Papillio Innovation Toolkit
With the features and functionality to accommodate and facilitate the execution of most, if not all, innovation methodologies, the Papillio Innovation Toolkit will enable your organisation to live and breathe the fundamentals of innovation.