As the ivory tower of business, innovation was once thought of as an audacious goal. It was for abstract thinking, large budgets, and big-picture ideas. But, like so many things, that is in the past. Today, innovation is just trying to catch up with the pace of change—and the current inflationary environment only exasperates this. Businesses and individuals alike are being forced to adapt on the fly, think creatively, and as a result, come up with new ideas and solutions at the same speed as the rapidly changing environment.
While quick-hit “micro” innovations meet the immediate needs of our current climate, how do brands make sure short-term priorities are also in support of long-term business goals? In short, how can you innovate swiftly, but smartly, to accelerate your company’s long-term possibilities?
After emerging from the world of agile technology, sprints have become common vernacular amid user experience, innovation, and human-centered design (HCD) teams. Sprints are a quick-turn, phased approach to working that are designed to help you identify the best ideas and get them to market quickly.
Gain Real-Time Customer Insights
First, think about your goal and what you need to achieve to select the Innovation Sprint that is best fit for your organization. Here are a few thought starters and what you can gain from each:
Gather real-time customer insights to prioritize customer needs and benefits around pressing product or messaging challenges.
- Vision setting: align on ideal state to reverse-engineer the desired outcome
- Empathy building via online ethnography
- MaxDiff survey to quantify statements/needs/features
- Prioritization to know where and how to focus efforts
- Gaining a deep understanding of your customers as people
- Uncovering new or potential customer segments
- Grounding teams in a truly empathetic view of customer
Bring the outside in and inspire teams through deepened customer and market understanding.
- Sensory immersion (mixed reality, gamification)
- Virtual inspiration tours (missions, interactive stimuli)
- Show and tell
- Innovation territories
- Bringing insights and customer understanding to life
- inspiring teams as they focus on problem solving and innovation
- Experiencing how other categories are delivering value to consumers
Feed your innovation pipeline and generate fresh, new ideas.
- Idea evaluation canvas
- Ideation facilitation: generation, prioritization, refinement
- Refined territory inspiration boards
- Focusing and generating ideas quickly
- Building framework and structure into ideation sessions
- Aligning ideas to current and future needs, both in the market and your business
Establish a Center of Excellence that infuses human-centered design into your innovation and product development process to drive collaboration and business success.
- Alignment: current to future state, vision canvas
- HCD value proposition
- HCD playbook (templates, frameworks, and processes to bring methodological structure)
- Socialization blueprint
- Developing or refining your approach to innovation
- Educating a team on human-centered design, and building a culture around it
How One Brand is Executing
A leading U.S. automotive manufacturer is using its innovation sprint as the linchpin of a larger initiative. Coupled with more in-depth qualitative and a market trend pulse survey, the sprint enables them to prioritize customer needs and benefits around a pressing product challenge. A customized socialization plan for stakeholders will then ensure that the customer voice remains at the forefront as each need and/or benefit moves from ideation to action.
As technology continues to fuel faster processing times and access to more data than ever before, agile work groups and sprints have become a valuable solution for many work teams especially user experience, innovation, and human-centered design groups. Change is inevitable, and we might not be sure what that change will look like, or how it will affect the market, but with agility and wiliness comes opportunities for innovation.