Conversion-poor companies, as defined in The Innovation Value Chain, most often generate good ideas but they do not screen or develop the ideas properly. Great ideas often die in the budget process due to fear of the unknown. Managers hesitate to take risks and instead emphasize the incremental and certain, not the novel. The inability to convert ideas into products/services can create a risk-averse and bureaucratic process that slows or stops execution.
Companies that lack the ability to move ideas forward to the next level should focus on two innovation practices: multichannel funding and safe havens. Creating multiple channels for funding will help companies avoid the situation where a good manager doesn’t like a particular new idea or doesn’t consider it good enough to use his or her resources to fun it. Other business units can use their funds to open up different options–from discretionary seed money up to full-scale venture funds.
Safe havens provide a way to shield new ideas and potential businesses from the short-term thinking and budget constraints that occupy many organizations that focus on short-term gains. Safe havens can be critical to the conversion of good ideas into profitable products and services.
For more information on this topic, see Leadership and innovation and Identifying the weak link in product innovation.
The Product Management Perspective: Much of the ‘meat’ of converting ideas into products comes in the form of features and requirements, the building blocks of products. The extent to which product managers understand and articulate ideas effectively will determine, to a large degree, the success of their companies. Major ideas are often driven at the highest levels of the company; however, success comes as a result of implementing the correct steps along the way.