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Exploring Innovation Stages, Front End Innovation | By Paul Miklautsch

What is front end innovation?

The front end innovation process is the earliest steps that a company takes to determine where and how to grow their business.

This process is constantly seeking to understand:


Our research, business, and design capabilities were built to align with answering these questions. Over the years, we’ve developed tools and methodologies to effectively work with middle-market companies. 

If this innovation journey is new to you, it may be helpful to define why it’s important to your business, what first steps build momentum, and how to get your team on board.

Why it’s important

Innovation is important because it forces companies to strengthen their skills in delivering new value to customers on a consistent basis. My guess is your business looks and operates very different than it did 10 or 20 years ago. In the same way, it will look very different in the next 5, 10 and 20 years. Staying on the pulse of technology advancements, understanding shifts in customer behaviors, and staying ahead of your competition is crucial to building a thriving and long-lasting organization.

In addition, focusing on growth will allow your employees to build new skills, provide them new opportunities, and challenge them to grow personally and professionally.  This will engage your top performances and create an atmosphere for them to constantly be challenged.

What is a good first step?

The first step is to conduct a landscape analysis where you assess your current business performance by market, customer, and product segments. By breaking down this information, you will start to see the strengths and gaps of your business and provide the necessary visibility to assessing where to focus on for future growth.  

At the same time, it’s important to have internal alignment by defining what innovation means to your business so the appropriate expectations are communicated throughout the organization.  By clarifying your business ambitions for growth, it will start to structure and prioritize areas to explore.

It’s equally important to look externally to understand the market and technology trends, capture the voice of the customer, and compare how competitors or start-ups are positioning themselves against your business.  

These are the first steps in building a strategic focus. Without the right information, your executive team may not have all the data and information needed to direct innovation initiatives. 

Do you need help taking the first steps?

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By Paul Miklautsch - January 15, 2020

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