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Do you remember a time when you had a beautiful idea? One that was so strong and powerful that you just had to make it happen?

If businesses are to thrive and survive ideas are like the untapped mine of the new products and services your customers demand.

In sectors where competition is fierce – where new technologies, new competitors are coupled to insatiable consumer demand, you need to get your business in a position to exploit that untapped potential.

And if you are interested in maximizing your business value either for sale, or to leave a legacy it pays to get the innovation habit.

We’re talking about innovation as a business process. It’s the engine behind much new growth and the productivity gains industry – both service and manufacturing – seek.

Ideas to Value

How we seek inspiration is an important part of the innovation journey.  It is from gaining insights into potential unmet customer needs that fuels the potential output from our innovation engines.

It’s also said that “your first idea is probably wrong” that suggests the journey of an idea is fraught with difficulty. 

The solution?  Is to generate more and better ideas…

But how?

I give you…



To switch good ideas that occasionally turn into a new product or service is fine.  It’s OK for some businesses to incrementally improve their product or services.

But what if you have greater ambition? What if, you have to compete against your peers in order to survive and thrive?

You need to get systematic about your ideas to value processes and engage the management and staff in ways of working that means they are always on the lookout for the product or services customers’ value and will pay money for.

I first came up with I.B.W.A. as a simple acronym to make it easy to get your people out there. In many cases in leading and managing innovation, we are seeking to drive a behavioural change.

Your staff have an incredibly important role as the eyes and ears of your business – when talking to your customers or for sensing what competitors are up to.

The sales reps can IBWA.  The engineers can IBWA. The marketing execs can IBWA.

Ways to Generate Insights

I.B.W.A is so simple, but when you start you will notice a few changes.  Your staff will start to want to be out there and be hungry for bringing those insights back to base. When you see the whole thing through – that is new ideas into new revenues – you will generate a climate of innovation which has other positive effects on the business.

When you have generated those insights, you need to create an environment or process for bringing them together, for example in team meeting, customer account discussions or run to an ideation workshop. 

Here are 5 ways to generate customer insight,

  1. Do your homework – what do you want to know about? Then do the desktop research to get a basic education about the opportunity.
  2. Go out on field visits – Consumer products company P&G spends over $400m each year on consumer insights. Few companies have that budget, but why not ask your customers if you can observe your product in use. This will generate a deeper understanding of the job they want to do and what they pay you money for.
  3. Ask you customers to come in and show them you new products or ideas and start a discussion.
  4. What is social media “chatter” saying about the market? Map the trends and then look for bigger patterns in the data to reveal unmet needs.
  5. Examine the trends – subscribe to business’s intelligence services to spot trends and opportunities in your market place or ones you could enter.

About The Growth Engine

The Growth Engine works with business and innovation leaders in mid-sized companies on consulting, coaching and training. We use our Growth Engine Framework(TM) as your guide to innovation improvement. Please get in touch.

Rob Munro is founder of The Growth Engine, the innovation management consultancy based in Manchester. His message is that innovation is the best way for companies to grow and become more competitive and resilient. He works with business leadership teams to build more capable innovators and achieve growth.

Rob Munro

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