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Innovation Funnel Approach | By Paul Miklautsch

Our three-step approach that we call the “Innovation Funnel” offers a unique perspective on the strategic planning process. Its purpose is to help clients focus on their customer, align their business objectives accordingly and then pursue the right opportunities in the right ways. 

As strategic partners, we show our clients how to capitalize on  industry trends, focus on areas of their greatest strengths, explore the most strategic market opportunities for their organization. Then, using the funnel approach, our clients can bring those ideas to life through product design and research. From beginning to end, we help connect user needs to our clients’ strategy. Here’s how it works.

Innovation Funnel v1

Phase 1: Strategic Planning

The first step in the Innovation Funnel is Strategic Planning. During this phase, we get aligned on organization goals and vision at the highest level. To help guide decision-making, we involve both internal and external perspectives. A market landscape analysis helps us understand what’s happening in the market with industry trends and competition. Then we analyze the client’s market performance and align on which potential areas of opportunity are best to explore, based on the company’s business objectives.

Over the course of 6-10 weeks, we conduct internal innovation workshops with decision-makers, market research around competitors and initial interviews with customers. This allows us to help our clients:

  • Identify which products and services are performing well currently
  • Establish metrics to help define behaviors around growth within the organization
  • Align people from different areas of the company to the same customer-centric goal

And because we work with so many different clients throughout the healthcare and industrial fields, our clients benefit from our valuable insight into industry trends and bird’s eye view of what’s happening across industries. At the end of the Strategic Planning phase, our clients have a clearly-defined set of areas to explore, with research and data to back up these recommendations.

Phase 2: Market Opportunities

The Market Opportunities phase is a two-part process lasting roughly 10-12 weeks. This phase is two parts. First, we take a deeper dive into our top areas of exploration and provide actionable tools to help our client narrow in further to specific opportunities. Then, we clearly prioritize them.

Qualitative research helps us identify our specific opportunities. To get the insight we need, we often shadow front-line workers, interview stakeholders and learn about their pain points and challenges. When we have a clear list of needs and pain points informed by research insights, it’s then time to prioritize. Quantitative research helps us decide which of our market opportunities have the most potential and should be highest priority.

Our clients benefit from this phase by:

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of customer needs
  • Aligning their goals with their customers’ needs to strategically grow a current portfolio of offerings or gain traction in a new market  
  • Prioritizing user needs based upon the level of satisfaction and importance of desired outcomes

At the end of the Market Opportunities phase, clients gain a ready-to-go, prioritized list of market opportunities, as well as detailed job maps, journey maps and other tools to help them visualize and implement related projects.

Phase 3: Concept Development 

The final phase in our Innovation Funnel process is Concept Development. This is where we use all the data and insights we acquired in the prior phases to develop innovative product and service ideas that truly fulfill the needs of our clients’ customers. Our concept ideation marries value proposition with qualitative and quantitative data. The result is a product or service concept that our client’s engineering team can launch in market.

This is another two-part phase, lasting 10-12 weeks for concept ideation and about four to six weeks for directional testing. During the first half of this phase, we utilize our product design backgrounds to: 

  • Create storyboards that help our clients visualize the solution
  • Define the value of each concept solution on its ability to foster growth and capitalize on market opportunities
  • Leverage user testing to understand customer preferences between different concepts

Once we have our winning concepts, we move to a testing phase to: 

  • Test our concepts in the field to fine tune designs
  • Employ user testing, such as conjoint analysis, to optimize the number and function of features
  • Transition learnings and insights to our clients’ engineering and manufacturing team to continue the development process through completion 

The benefit of working with Start Something Bold during this phase lies in the amount of research and data we provide to give our clients the confidence to pursue concepts. By the end of our Concept DevelopmentPhase, clients are empowered with proven, value-oriented ideas for products or services. They have, in hand, concepts outlined on storyboards and validated by qualitative and quantitative research.   

For years, this solid, customer centric, research-backed approach to strategic planning has helped our clients innovate and grow strategically in their fields. Want to learn about the company that developed the Innovation Funnel approach? Here’s more about Start Something Bold. 

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By Paul Miklautsch - September 08, 2020

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