Many companies equate innovation management with idea management. They have ideation sessions that result in lots of ideas that must be catalogued, filtered, assessed, and acted upon. The thinking goes something like this: “The more ideas we have, the greater our chances are that one of them will be a big idea. Our goal, then, is to fail fast; that is, to filter out all the bad ideas as quickly as possible so the big ideas will surface.”
Companies that use the ideas-first model are trying to figure out which of the hundreds of ideas they have generated significantly address their customers’ unmet needs in attractive markets. But in nearly all companies, managers don’t even agree on what a customer need is, let alone all the unmet needs in the markets the ideas are addressing. So how can they effectively determine which ideas to pursue? They can’t. And this is the problem.
As a result, companies pursue, develop, and refine ideas they find intuitively appealing, and along the way they try to figure out if those ideas address unmet needs in attractive markets. In the end, they find that most ideas do not. These ideation techniques waste time, money, and resources.