Ideation is Easy. Conversion is the Hard Stuff.

February 18, 2013

The results also show that being highly effective at idea conversion is more important to financial success than being highly skilled at generating ideas.
-    Booz & Company
-    2012 Survey of the Global 10001

In their annual survey of the 1000 most innovative companies, consultancy Booz & Company identified a game-changing moment for open innovation and R&D practices. After nearly a decade of experimenting with what open innovation is about, we’ve collective recognized that actually converting ideas to successful development projects differentiates innovation leaders and laggards.

There’s been so much focus on “ideation management” in open innovation conferences, articles, and conversations. But, to quote a colleague at a major cosmetics company, “We have plenty of great ideas, [company] doesn’t focus enough resources on the research process that promotes those ideas to development”.

John Evans, Corporate VP of Technology and Innovation at Lockheed Martin (quoted in the Booz study) agreed: “I believe that it’s this middle conversion phase, which we call investigation, where the value of a project can go up by a factor of 10.”

The tail wags the dog here. The attention and dialogue about ideation, idea management, etc., as critical corporate tools and processes compared to the value of actually innovating is unbalanced. Idea management is important, but does not solely drive innovation.

Let’s look for more newsprint and blog space on the processes, decisions, and tools managers have at their command to decide whether a given idea in the pipeline is a “go” or “no-go”.

1. Jaruzelski, Barry, John Loehr, and Richard Holman. “The Global Innovation 1000: Making Ideas Work.” Strategy + Business. Booz & Company, Winter 2012.



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