The main challenges that all organizations face are what I call the innovation gap and the innovation delay. The innovation gap is the difference between the need for really great ideas and the actual supply of them. The innovation delay refers to how long it takes you to go from selecting an idea for execution to getting a product to market.
All organizations can use a supply of more and better ideas and to have an approach to ensure the best ideas get executed without delay.
The Focus, Ideation, and Ranking stages of FIRE framework I use addresses the innovation gap by giving you a system that improves the quantity and quality of ideas. To address the delay, the Execution stage of FIRE gives you tools to improve the success rate of turning your ideas into killer innovations.
Both the innovation gap and the innovation delay can be traced back to the corporate antibodies and their assumptions about how your organization should operate, the ideas that will work for it, and who your customers are. Now, the gap is an easy concept to understand because most people acknowledge that a constant flow of better ideas is required to stay ahead of the game. Same with the delay; most business people have had the experience of bringing a good product to market too late, so that makes sense too. The problem isn’t so much getting people to see the gap and the delay as it is giving them the confidence that there is a way around them.
The Four Elements of FIRE
FOCUS – Identify the areas (e.g., customers, products, etc.) where you want/need to innovate
IDEATION – Generate great ideas by asking Killer Questions
RANKING – Rank your ideas using five simple questions to identify the best
EXECUTION – Turn your best idea into a Killer Innovation through a question-based stage-gate process
My objective in creating an approach to innovation was to develop a simple framework that can (1) be applied to any size business (2) be flexible enough to deal with the challenge of coming up with ideas, and (3) help identify the most important ones to work on and improve the chance of translating the idea into a successful killer innovation.
The FIRE framework uses questions to give structure to the process of choosing where to focus your ideation efforts, improving the quantity and quality of ideas, ranking the ideas so that you know which ones to work on, and then executing them.
FIRE turns the often frustratingly open-ended and unguided work we all have experienced in the past into a workable protocol capable of being carried out. This method will make you confident that the idea you are executing is the very strongest one possible.