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How to Innovate – Innovation Roadmaps for Market Success

How does innovation work?

Innovation is on everyone’s lips. Innovation gives you a competitive edge. Innovation is sexy. Who doesn’t want to be “innovative”? But how does it actually work?

Innovation has many faces. Every company has its own understanding of what innovation is. That is good and right. After all, companies pursue different goals with different strategies. Innovation cannot be an off-the-shelf solution.

But there are similarities: There are similarities in the success factors (keyword: innovation capability and innovation system) and in the process: especially when it comes to which questions need to be answered, which information needs to be obtained and which decisions need to be made. Innovation always has one very special goal: a unique position on the market.

Countless successful innovations can serve as models for future successes. You can find many years of experience compiled into innovation roadmaps here. An innovation roadmap is a project plan that helps to break down the often unmanageable process from the initial idea to successful implementation into smaller, manageable steps. The result is a clear roadmap that helps to identify innovation potential, define projects, implement them in a structured manner and successfully launch them on the market. A recipe for innovation success. Copyable and repeatable.

Innovation roadmap in 6 phases

Which path leads to successful innovations? There are six phases from the motivation to create an innovation to its successful market launch. The innovation roadmap helps to maintain an overview of the innovation project, phases and goals. It serves as a roadmap for newcomers to innovation. For experienced innovators who use iterations and adaptations of the process flexibly, it serves as a communication basis for innovation in the team. Applicable for all types of innovations.

TOM SPIKE Innovation Roadmaps

The terms are not entirely standardized. For some, an innovation roadmap is a timetable that puts the innovations planned for the future in order. It then answers the question of when which innovation should be on the market. For anyone with this understanding, what is described here is probably more of a rough innovation process.

Phase 1 – Finding fields of innovation

Finding stones in the river as a symbol for fields of innovation - TOM SPIKE

Increasing competitive pressure, the fact that one’s own product is becoming a commodity or the desire to move the world forward are possible motives for innovation. The direction is still unclear. Current strengths, weaknesses and changes in the organization, the environment and the customer help to identify innovation potential. Successful areas of innovation are unresolved customer problems whose solution will make you the market leader tomorrow. The willingness to take risks, capacities and personal motivations accompany the selection.

You can find fields of innovation in the two-day compact format Basecamp for Innovation or through active exploration and probing into new markets.

The effort required to find a suitable field of innovation can be as high or as low as you like. A few industry examples:

Fields of innovation in B2B & B2C trade

The areas of innovation (unsolved customer problems) are knee-deep in the street. All solutions are partly medieval, partly Stone Age, and neither the customers nor the craftsmen themselves are particularly comfortable. Anyone who wants to create innovations here has an easy game.

Fields of innovation in medical technology B2B

The industry is swimming in money, there is a lot to do and no real pain for miles around. There is also a strong conviction that you can do almost everything yourself and that everyone else doesn’t understand the medical technology sector anyway. Added to this is the hurdle of difficult approval, which hangs over everything as a sword of Damocles.

Fields of innovation in medical technology B2C

Things look much better here. Patients are relatively dissatisfied. Health is a trending topic and health insurance companies are paying more and more. The number of unresolved problems is so large that it is often difficult to focus.

Fields of innovation in the automotive industry B2B

A tough patch with a lot of potential 80% of the industry is on its feet to find new markets and new fields of application, or to create something in electromobility. There is also uncertainty as to whether electric, hybrid, hydrogen, biofuels or synfuels will win the race. But the unresolved problems are manifold.

Fields of innovation in the automotive industry B2C

The car is a commodity product. And the car buyer is a commodity buyer. He is more or less satisfied with everything that already exists. Real problems are rare, and as interest in personal vehicles wanes, the role of the B2C customer becomes increasingly weaker.

Where fields of innovation are not readily available, it is worth starting a few steps earlier. For the search fields. Or even in the structured selection of suitable search fields. Either way, at the end of the day, the field of innovation is just one thing: an unsolved customer problem. And one that the company really wants to solve. With enthusiasm!

New business areas in B2B | Live webinar (in German)

New markets, new business areas and innovation potential. How do B2B companies find the business areas of the future? Find out more in the live webinar. 20 minutes of input and inspiration. 10 minutes discussion.

Phase 2 – Start innovation project

Rocket launch as a symbol for innovation project - TOM SPIKE

A specific innovation project is selected. The innovation team of volunteers gains a shared understanding of the most important challenges and degrees of freedom. The keyword is orientation. As soon as the framework has been set, the project work can begin. Because ultimately, innovation is just that: a project.

A successful innovation team is as diverse as you can imagine. Functional areas, genders, age groups, nationalities, company affiliations, years in the profession and characters are just some of the dimensions that should be characterized by diversity. It is not easy to unite this colorful mix around a common goal. An innovation roadmap supports the innovation project by visually defining strategic goals and topics.

  • Mission: The sponsor’s message, what the innovation field is all about and what the criteria for success are.
  • Understanding: familiarization with what has happened so far.
  • Vision: Development of a common future perspective with a common level of ambition.
  • Limits: What is not allowed? Which topics/areas are a no-go?
  • Mandate: Signature of all team members on a joint document to set the commitment in writing.

Phase 3 – Understanding the innovation context

Mountaineer in the snow as a symbol for innovation context - TOM SPIKE

Social conditions and technological developments play a major role in the success of innovation. Making trends visible and understanding previous developments allows conclusions to be drawn about customer needs that not even the customers themselves are aware of. At the end of the phase, there is a clear picture of the environment and objective of the innovation. Including benchmark of competing solutions.

Social conditions and technological developments are best translated into concrete product innovations using a facilitated Time Machine workshop. Two days compact. Success guaranteed.

With analytics and empathy, innovators gain knowledge and insights about customers and contexts. Specifically, there are four ways to gain insights into customer needs:

Surveys and interviews:

Talking directly to existing and future customers creates understanding and empathy for the challenges of the target group. Easy to say, hard to do, it is often difficult to make contact with an unknown target person, build trust and elicit the right answers. If it’s just the salesperson talking to the buyer again, the result will be sobering. And often the customer does not have the answers you would like from them. “It’s not your customer’s job to know what he wants.” [Steve Jobs]

Monitoring and observation:

What the user no longer notices is immediately apparent to the experienced observer. Observing work processes and actions can therefore reveal insights that cannot be gained through dialog. While monitoring is still relatively easy in B2C, it is more difficult in B2B. And especially in highly technical matters, there is no user to consult. Just think of automatic transmissions, nanotechnologies and biochemical processes.

Immersion and immersion:

Just slip into the role yourself. You don’t learn about the challenges a cyclist faces from conversations and observations. You have to get on your bike and find out for yourself where it pinches. This applies in principle to all areas of life, but also becomes difficult where there is no user in the classical sense, such as in quantum mechanics, nuclear fusion and cell division.

Analysis and evaluation:

Perhaps data is the new gold. For innovators, data and information are definitely valuable treasures for gaining insights. Insights into the development of customer needs. On the development of technological systems over time. And about user behavior and preferences. As frowned upon as desk work may be among many innovation preachers, it is valuable, helpful and necessary to deal with facts and to be analytically active.

Phase 4 – Apply innovation patterns

Kitchen utensils and ingredients as a symbol for innovation patterns - TOM SPIKE

Both technical systems and business models follow familiar patterns and laws business models follow familiar patterns. With this knowledge, the probability of success of an innovation increases many times over. Proven success patterns and principles are one of the main reasons why structured innovation helps to achieve outstanding results in a very short time. And where there are no tried and tested patterns, structured innovation gives rise to the best ideas in the world.

The most successful way to develop patent ideas and invention disclosures, especially for technology innovations, is with the Patent Booster Workshop: Three compact days. Success guaranteed.

Idea development looks very different depending on the type of innovation.

  • In technology innovation, inventive problem solving TRIZ is the method of choice. Clearly the most powerful toolbox for inventing and developing new technological solutions.
  • A lot of business model innovation is based on the 55 business model patterns. A list of individual building blocks from successful business models that are used and adapted for your own innovation.
  • Ideas for product innovations require a lot of imagination, inspiration and transfer thinking. A very good understanding of the customer combined with good association skills and design thinking, for example, are particularly helpful here.
  • The strongly interaction-driven service and process innovations draw ideas from the combinatorics of solutions that work elsewhere. Our own service and process design method kits create the framework for this.

Phase 5 – Develop innovation concepts

Traffic lights as a symbol for innovation concepts and decisions - TOM SPIKE

A manageable number of solutions are developed, combined, evaluated, compared and improved. Rapid prototypes are used for initial tests and refinements. A meaningful short presentation of the innovation project concludes the phase. This pitch is aimed at the future project sponsor in the company. The core element is a concise business case. Then it’s “top or bottom”.

You need a miracle for the perfect innovation concept: we have it. With the innovation miracle, you can create an innovation concept with everything that is crucial for market success.

The main focus of the concept is on feasibility. All three dimensions of feasibility must be guaranteed for successful innovations.

  1. Market acceptance: The concept is well received by the target group. This means that a relevant problem is solved for the customer. Furthermore, he finds the way in which the problem is solved acceptable. And they are prepared to pay money for it. Customer interviews are once again the best way to validate this.
  2. Technical feasibility: The overall idea is technically feasible. Technical risks are reduced to an acceptable level. The most important sticking points were demonstrated prototypically. There is also a concept that could be implemented.
  3. Economic viability: It pays to market this innovation. Sales and costs are in an acceptable ratio. The expected return justifies the expense. The project appears to be sustainable for at least as long as it takes to achieve the targeted ROI. The business case for innovation helps to find this out and to substantiate it for the argumentation in the organization and in the company management.

Phase 6 – Introducing innovation

Realizing the carousel as a symbol of innovation - TOM SPIKE

Once the innovation project has been successfully presented to the future budget provider, implementation begins. The transition to a classic development project with detailed development, communication, production and gradual market launch. Continuous further development enables a long life cycle of the innovation until it is replaced by a successor generation.

This phase looks very different depending on the industry and type of innovation. In the manufacturing industry with long product development cycles, this is where classic product development takes place. Design, detailed engineering, system integration, work preparation, etc. This is followed by production and market launch with all the associated parallel processes. It is safe to say that innovation will be the lowest of all phases, but the workload will be the highest.

If the innovation is a digital business model or an innovative service, then the innovation work extends much further into this phase. Because although the concept work is actually complete, the solution is not rigid, but is developed further on the living customer. Only rarely does a digital business model remain stable immediately after it first appears on the market. The primary aim of innovation work is to get a foot on the ground and in the door of the market. And to know for sure that there really is something behind the door.

This is how innovation works!

Innovation roadmaps show step by step how to make innovation a success. They not only offer a clear orientation, but also provide information about the objectives of the innovation project. The clear phases make it easier for the innovation teams to focus on the next milestone.

Innovation Roadmaps are available as A0 posters for the 4 types of innovation:

TOM SPIKE Innovation Roadmaps

Do you want to lead an innovation in your company to success and support your team with a concrete innovation roadmap? Innovation training to build competences can be the first step. The successful approach based on the innovation roadmaps for the next innovation project in the company.

Arrange an initial consultation

Management consulting is a matter of trust. Let’s talk briefly about your challenge and find out whether we could work together.

The innovation consultancy TOM SPIKE accompanies industrial companies and start-ups to their innovation success.

While only a few employees in the company have ever fully supported an innovation from start to finish, this is our day-to-day business. We have been supporting innovation from start to finish for years. The industry experience, methodological knowledge and leadership skills gained in this way allow you to take care of your day-to-day business and bring innovation to the market with a high degree of efficiency and the greatest probability of success. Our innovation consultants have first-hand experience as startup founders, entrepreneurs, industry employees and management consultants. Together we create your unique position and your innovative success.

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