Entry #5: The Framework for Innovation

 As a part of a Babson College MBA program I recently read that IDEO, a Silicon Valley-based design firm, was hired to create a more modern grocery-shopping cart.  The first thing they did was visit the client site and observe customers using the current model.  By walking through the store and watching how the carts were being used uncovered a plethora of pain points and ideas for innovation.  It became clear what wasn’t working and why.

The first step in improving your product or service has to be to go into the field and observe current usage patterns.  And for a small business, this is the only way you’ll be able to adapt your product/service offerings to create a strategic advantage for your customers—this is especially critical when selling to large companies with established suppliers.

I’ve learned to never accept things that aren’t working for you or your customer.  Instead, focus your resources on ways to make it better.  Make prototypes.  Incentivize your team to innovate based on their observations. This can be amazingly fun and rewarding—and in the end, effective.

Loosely translated, the framework for innovation covers these five steps:

  1. Understand the market, the client, the technology, and perceptions of “the problem”.
  2. Observe real people and find out what they like, what they find confusing, and what needs are currently not being addressed.
  3. Visualize and brainstorm the new product or service and how it will affect the customers, then build models and prototypes.
  4. Evaluate and refine the prototypes. Seek constructive feedback and then go through a series of improvements.
  5. Implement the new concept.

For further reading, I highly recommend “The Art of Innovation” and “The Ten Faces of Innovation” by Tom Kelley.  Have an innovative and entrepreneurial day!!

And please post feedback to the group if you try this out and have some success.

Kate Thorne Meyers, President, CEO

Brown & Meyers, Inc. 

Phone:  (207) 772-6732

Phone:  (800) 785-7505

Cell:      (207) 233-1276




May 2012: The Supplier Spotlight Monthly SBE Contest.

Sponsored by Supplier-Connection – An initiative of major US companies committed to spending more with US-based small businesses.


About Dan Gallo

I'm a small business lifer, starting/running businesses since I sold seeds door-to-door as a kid in The Bronx. I've played guitar and enjoyed baseball since I was 5 (born a NY Yankees fan). Just prior to marrying Kim in 1983 I became a Christian. We have two sons; Daniel's a musician & social media expert with a smart, insightful sense of humor, and Adam who recently graduated from Brooklyn College double majoring in Creative Writing/Literature and Anthropology. Adam now works in the non-profit sector. Since 2002 one thing we love to do together is go on service/missions trips to Belize. We've collectively spent 60+ weeks in Belize with this missions organization http://twaw.org. I started my 1st company in January 1985, and been self-employed ever since. I sold my last company, Mentor Communications Group, in '04. After 2 years w/ the acquiring company I started The Allasso Group, LLC doing Small Business Consulting, Fund Raising/Capital Raise-up Campaigns, Sales Strategy, Outsourced Sales Agency work, & Digital Marketing Programs (Social Media, SEM, etc.) since April 2006. Notable projects: Hired as Small Business Advocate and Social Media Director for IBM's "Supplier-Connection" - Feb '11-Dec '13. Hired as COO to help turn-around late stage start-up software company myVRM. Jul12-Dec '13 Hired as CEO of CoupleWise.com, a Digital Health2.0 app, to write business plan, raise seed capital, & completely redesign and relaunch the app. Aug '16 I won a Finalist spot for MassChallenge UK's 2016 fall cohort in London from Sept thru Nov. Started Oct15 - Current. I enjoy helping turn-around struggling small businesses, and launching new business ventures. Feel free to contact me with opportunities.
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