Innovation is the backbone of every business’s success, but turning a simple idea into a successful innovation requires a well-planned and strategic approach. The following are steps you should always take when testing out a new idea:
1. Establish limitations
When you have a new idea, it’s important to set some parameters for how you’ll evaluate its success. This could involve setting a timeline for testing, identifying key metrics to track, or specifying a budget for the experiment. By establishing constraints upfront, you can ensure that you’re focused on the most important aspects of the idea and avoid getting sidetracked by tangential issues. And if the experiment doesn’t go as planned, you’ll have a clear framework for evaluating what went wrong and how to adjust your approach for future tests.
2. Collect feedback
Whether you’re trying out a new product or refining a workflow process, it’s important to get input from everyone on your team - regardless of title or role. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or even just casual conversations. By gathering feedback early on, you can identify potential roadblocks or drawbacks to your idea and make adjustments before investing too much time or money. And because innovation is inherently uncertain, getting as much intel as possible upfront can help you avoid costly mistakes down the road.
3. Split testing
This involves creating two or more versions of your marketing materials or user interface, changing one element at a time, and comparing the results to see which version performs better. This could involve testing different calls to action, color schemes, or promotional offers. Over time, you can use the data from your split tests to fine-tune your approach and create a more effective strategy. And because you’re only making small changes at a time, the risk of failure is relatively low.
4. Allocate funds
It’s important to allocate a separate budget for these purposes so that you don’t risk putting all your eggs in one basket. By taking a percentage of the budget to test, you’re able to judge success without messing up what is working and get client-side approval as well. Furthermore, it allows you to evaluate the results and decide if you want to double down on the strategy, test a variation or determine it as nonviable for the time being. It’s important to set specific time periods for such tests as well.
5. Employ user experience research frameworks
Businesses thrive and survive off their ability to innovate, move the needle and not become complacent or comfortable with the status quo. When testing new ideas and introducing new service lines or product features, it’s incredibly important to canvass plenty of potential users directly to gain candid and unfiltered insights and perspectives. By using some user experience (UX) research frameworks to pose thoughtful questions, you can gather this objective feedback and make more informed decisions.
6. Determine required resources
It’s important to understand the potential resources and timelines needed to bring an idea to fruition. Oftentimes, management teams can overlook shortages in development time or shortages in a number of new processes that will be absolutely necessary for a project to have a chance at success. By taking the time to spell out what resources will be needed, even for an MVP, the likelihood of success with the project can increase dramatically. In addition, management teams will be more likely to prioritize projects that are most synergistic with their existing resources.
7. Assess potential for growth
This means that the idea can be easily expanded to new markets, products and services, allowing it to grow and succeed in the long-term. It’s important to keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t necessary, as innovative ideas can be adapted and executed in a variety of ways. The key is to find an idea that falls into the “sweet spot,” where it is relatively easy to execute and has the potential for success.
8. Be Patient
Do not jump on the latest trend or shiny new thing. Waiting is actually one of the most important vetting tools for an innovative idea. If the idea still seems exciting and valid a few weeks or months down the line, then it’s worth exploring further. This ensures that you’re not wasting valuable time and resources on an idea that won’t pan out in the long-term.