Innovation Lab – Your Idea Factory
In today’s fast changing world where technology is democratizing and leveling the playing field in every business, how would you beat competition? In the context of an agency how would you meet the expectation of marketers who are looking for innovative or killer ideas ?
“To survive today, agencies needs to build reputation.”
Agencies need to come up with ideas that make them smarter, Push them beyond what client asks for, help clients solve their biggest challenges, essentially help them in connecting the dots.
“Reputation can be built and maintained only by continuous innovations.”
If innovation is the only choice then how do you and what you do to create those “awesome ideas”. In short how would you create the idea factory in your organization?
Lab is one such place, which an agency can use as a nursery of new ideas. The lab provides an excellent platform to explore, try, test – new ideas, technologies,possibilities and connections for story telling without worrying too much about day-to-day client works.
Everyone is worried about disruptions and changes.The only way out is to embrace the disruption and lab provides the means to do that effectively and efficiently.
Few have tried to infuse the culture of innovations by organizing hackathons or by crowdsourcing problems. While this helps but is not a long-term solution. In order to produce those “killer” ideas, find new possibilities, insights, a dedicated entity is required which is not bogged down by day-to-day client work.
Do you know where and how you can leverage cloud computing to cut down your cost?
Do you know how Augmented reality, Virtual reality, Artificial intelligence IOT (internet of things) etc. can help you improve the customer experience or introduce efficiency in your service?
Do you want to know how wearable technology will impact your customer behavior or how can you use it to beat the competition?
The answer is to “experiment”!!
The purpose of lab is to do fast experiments. An experiment explores, validates, or provides new insights for ideas or hypothesis.
In the context of marketing, lab is not a place where you wear white apron and do research for next generation robots. It is neither a place for tinkering with cool gadgets and technologies. It is rather about connecting the dots to bring ideas alive that can reshape brands and consumers interaction and take agency forward in terms of skills and reputation.
In order to setup and run a lab successfully it is essential to have a complete buy in from top leadership with clear cut goals and objectives.Without the leadership support it is difficult to operationalize or adopt lab outputs.
There are three key ingredients to a successful lab
- Skill diversity
Connected thinking of diverse skilled people leads to innovative or disruptive ideas. Diversified team is a MUST for lab team. Think of a team comprising technologist, designer, creative and strategist. Team Diversity not only generates diverse ideas but also ensures coverage from different angles.
- Dedicated space
A dedicated space conducive to brainstorming, creation, making and different from typical office setup helps immensely in ideation and collaboration. New media technologies especially like IOT (internet of things) will require a dedicated space for tinkering as it involves too much hardware.
- Lean methodology and democracy
Experiments in the lab are not and should not be typical project work. Experiments should be of fixed duration and lab should strive for high numbers of diverse experiments. The Lab process should be like what I call “Lab mentality” – Ideate, create and iterate.
- Ideate: -Start with what if-what if ……
- Create: -Build prototype of your idea. Collect feedback.
- Iterate: -If the idea has wings, evolve or shelve it.
Lab should safeguard itself from the perils of average ideas. Team must always push the limits and try to find the edges of technologies. There is no point of spending money, time on run of the mill ideas.
Lab culture should be democratic and each member should feel empowered to take decisions and share their opinion freely. If there are inhibitions in sharing feedbacks, point of views then it is a sure recipe for failure.
All the experiments should be shared and demonstrated at regular intervals. Blogs, videos, demo are good tools to do show and tell. It is absolutely essential for the lab to build its own brand.
Running a lab incurs a cost and may not show immediate tangible benefits but over a period justifies the investment. Ideas from labs can help in getting new business and building long-term partnership with clients. As fringe benefit it helps in talent retention, happier and more engaged staff.
Do you have a lab?