Idea Generation Takes More Than A Few Hours of Brainstorming February 1, 2012 RICCentre By Tim Scott Ask any advanced manufacturing company, “Is innovation important to you?” and they’re certain to answer, “Yes, it’s a priority.” Many, however, have difficulty with the steps needed to deliberately bring an idea to fruition as well as the culture required to encourage innovation in the first place. It takes much more than a simply brainstorming exercise once a year. You need to set up an environment for thinking about the possibilities then implement a purposeful and controlled method for developing ideas, comparing ideas, and knowing when to say “go” or “no go” to a potential project. Companies large or small can learn from Psion, the global mobile technology company that began with the invention of the PDA, has developed a reputation for being a true innovator. Within the company, Psion provides an internal process where everyone is encouraged to submit ideas that have the potential to become projects within a few days. Psion’s online forum, Ingenuity Working, was set up precisely for idea evaluation. The social network harnesses the brainpower of its internal community— 900 employees— as well as its external community of partners and customers around the world that comment on new technology and ideas. Coby Segall, Group Lead – Research and Innovation at Psion Canada, knows first hand about building a culture of innovation for idea generation then turning ideas into projects. When asked about the best way to create the right environment for encouraging new ideas, Coby provides these recommendations: 1. All employees should have a good understanding of their target markets. 2. Ensure that every relevant technology area is understood and tracked. 3. Empower all employees to contribute ideas towards improving products and solving customer problems. 4. Combine the ideas with the technology while keeping people involved, showing them that their ideas can make a difference. Want to learn more? Get some hands-on tools for generating ideas then evaluating them. Later this month Segall will address Ontario advanced manufacturers at the second session of Innovat Forward: How New Ideas are Formed and Where to Find Them. Along with mentor Andrew Maxwell, from the University of Toronto, and entrepreneur-in-residence at the RIC Centre, Tim Scott, the session will take attendees through an idea generation pathway, and provide tools for how to know when to move ahead on an idea or go back to the drawing board. Innovate Forward is a 6-session program designed to kick-start ideas and nurture innovation within advanced manufacturing. All sessions are held at the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, Sheridan College, Brampton. Each is targeted towards entrepreneurs developing innovative technologies in the advanced manufacturing sector, with the intention of fostering ideas, sharing successes and failures, and gaining mentoring support. Click here to learn more about the upcoming session.. Tim Scott is the RIC Centre’s Entrepreneur in Residence. In his capacity, he meets with early stage companies and advising them on moving their business models to the next level. The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.