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Now that you're on your way to learning about systematic inventive thinking you may be wondering, "How can I use it at my company?" A good way to get started is to do a pilot program. A pilot program is a way to test new methods and processes on a limited scale before investing time and money on a larger scale. It reduces your risk. A short pilot program on a specific product or service line helps you understand whether a new innovation method is right for your company.
Pilot programs help keep your costs in line and they help reduce resistance to new methods. To start a pilot program you'll need resources, a budget, so you'll need to build the business case before you can secure funding. From my experience the best way to gain support is to show your managers what has changed in the marketplace. That change can be something your competition has done. It can be a new consumer trend. Or perhaps a change in industry regulations.
Perhaps something changed in your company, like a big downturn in sales or a product recall. The key then is to show how a new innovation program might address that challenge. Next you need to build a base of support for the pilot by getting colleagues in other departments involved. Why? Because you want to share the risks and the rewards from the pilot program. Make them aware of the pilot and invite them to participate. Ask your peers to chip in part of the expense, even if it's just a small amount.
By sharing the expenses of a pilot program, everyone takes a little of the credit for the outcome. When setting up a pilot program you need to decide what methods you'll test and how you'll measure success. Be sure everyone is clear what is being tested and measured. Is it the quantity of ideas generated, the quality of ideas, or perhaps some other metric? Make sure you can describe the method that you're testing. Has it worked in the past? Why do you think it will work on this project? How is the method different from what is being done today? In other words you need to have your elevator speech ready.
Here's an example of my elevator speech to explain the SIT method. SIT is a method of generating ideas based on patterns that mankind has used for thousands of years. These patterns regulate your thinking and channel your ideation. They structure your thinking to create concepts you are not likely to have thought of on your own. During and after the pilot program it's important that you develop a factual report of what happened.
Make sure you include detailed descriptions of any new products and services. A great way to do this is to include visual drawings or physical prototypes that were generated during the pilot program. Colleagues who were not involved in the pilot will want to see what came out of it. It makes a bigger impact when they can actually visualize or handle the ideas. The bottom line is you're going to be asked whether the pilot program worked. Were the methods found to be effective? Based on the outcome of the pilot would you recommend this method to your peers? Your company expects you to deliver results and that includes generating new products and services.
Pilot programs are an effective, low-cost way to test new ideas and gain insights about techniques and methods. Pilot programs sell. They help sell you as an effective contributor to the growth of the organization, and they help sell your ideas. Most importantly they help shed light on ways to unlock new value for your customers.
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