5 Essential Questions To Ask Before You Start An Innovation Project

Innovation is hard. Really hard. It’s the opposite of business as usual where you just work to maintain the status quo, and are rewarded for doing so. The process by which you take a new idea to market has a series of phases, it’s not perfect, it’s an iterative process of trial and error.

Some figure out things as they go. I take a middle ground approach where you experiment but you also anticipate.

With that said, suppose you’ve figured that an idea has some legs and now it’s time to turn it into a project. Beyond the essential questions of why you’re doing this, what value you wish to deliver, who the customer is, how will you deliver, when will you start and where you should start from, here are 5 questions you should also answer before you start:

  1. What’s the goal? It’s very simple, innovation has to serve a purpose: What are you aiming to achieve with this project? Are you aiming to improve on something that already works? Are you aiming to make an exponential impact? Are you creating a new market?
  2. What is the insight on which this idea is based? Ideas without insight are just that; ideas. Insight trump ideas because an insight is an undeniable truth; which is an innovation opportunity.
  3. What capabilities and resources are required and how will we deploy them? Just like any other project, innovation needs support and resources from leadership. You also have be clear in the capabilities you have, and ones you don’t, that need to be had in order to execute.
  4. What has to be true for this idea to work? This question is about looking to the future and thinking backwards through all the things that need to be true for the project to work. It’s about anticipating all the things that have to go right, from marketing to the use of sales territory map software systems, to operations, to customer service; everything.
  5. How will our customers lives change? This question is about the value that you deliver and how to visualize how that actually plays out in the customers lives.

There you have it.

Let me know if you have other essential questions that need to be answered before starting an innovati