Understanding the Innovation Funnel: A Comprehensive Guide

Join us as we delve into the depths of the innovation funnel in our comprehensive guide. This blog series is dedicated to exploring the intricacies of the innovation funnel, exploring its stages, strategies, and best practices to help you navigate the journey from ideation to successful product launch.

Whether you're a seasoned innovator or just starting your journey in the world of innovation, this series will provide valuable insights to enhance your understanding and mastery of the innovation process.

Understanding the Innovation Funnel

Generating ideas is simple, but ensuring they are executed effectively is another thing entirely. In business, journeying through the funnel, means leveraging a variety of tools and methods not only to validate the feasibility of an idea but also to test its viability and desirability. By setting clear gates within an innovation funnel, we can make informed decisions about which ideas to pursue and which ones to discard.

The innovation funnel is used by organizations in many different ways. But what do we need to know about it, and how can it benefit your business? Let's help you understand its importance.


Definition and Conceptual Overview  

The innovation funnel is a structured process that enables organizations to capture, filter, and prioritize innovative ideas in a systematic nature. Innovation can be like capturing lightning in a bottle, which is why the funnel acts as a mechanism to transform a variety of ideas into actionable strategies by guiding them through various stages of evaluation, development, and most importantly, testing. 

The funnel also allows ideas to come from both internal and external sources and, most importantly, helps organizations streamline the innovation process, reduce risks, and focus their resources on the most promising ideas that align with the overall business objectives.


The Importance of the Innovation Funnel  

The innovation funnel is critical to driving business growth and development by ensuring that only the most innovative and viable ideas progress through the stages leading to its launch. 

By prioritizing and refining ideas based on specific criteria such as feasibility, potential in the market, and alignment with strategic goals, the innovation funnel helps organizations invest resources wisely in concepts that have the highest potential for successful implementation. 

By guiding ideas through numerous stages, the innovation funnel helps ensure that only the most viable concepts eventually reach the market.


What Are the Key Components and Stages?

The innovation process unfolds through distinct stages. As part of our flagship KICKBOX program that fuels bottom-up innovation company-wide, the innovators navigate through the innovation funnel via the following stages:


1. Validation Phase (RedBox)

  •  Identifying the Problem

Here, the innovators delve into understanding core issues and challenges faced, pinpointing areas ripe for innovation. Through thorough analysis and stakeholder engagement, they identify the pain points that their idea aims to address.

  • Idea Generation  

The initial stage involves collecting various ideas from various sources like employees, customers, and partners through brainstorming sessions or feedback mechanisms. It's the phase where creativity flourishes, and diverse perspectives are welcomed to fuel the ideation process.

  • Crafting the Solution

Armed with insights, the Kickboxers brainstorm and ideate potential solutions, exploring creative avenues to address the identified problem. This encourages out-of-the-box thinking and encourages experimentation to find innovative solutions.

  • Conceptualizing the Idea

The most promising solutions are further developed into concrete concepts, fleshing out details and refining strategies for implementation. Kickboxers work on defining the scope, objectives, and key features of the proposed solution, laying the groundwork for its development.

  • Convincing Stakeholders

With a validated concept in hand, Kickboxers pitch their ideas to stakeholders, garnering support and resources to move forward. Effective communication and persuasion skills are crucial in gaining buy-in from decision-makers and securing the necessary backing for the proposed innovation.


2. Pilot Phase (BlueBox)  

The ideas which garnered support during the initial phase are further developed and the innovators develop a Proof-of-Concept (POC).  

  • Evaluating Desirability, Viability, Feasibility and Strategic Fit: 

Rigorous evaluation and testing take place to assess the feasibility, viability, desirability and strategic fit of the proposed solution, ensuring alignment with company objectives and market needs. Kickboxers conduct feasibility studies, market research, and testing to validate the viability of the solution and identify any potential barriers or challenges to implementation.

  • Planning for Implementation

Detailed plans are laid out, outlining the steps and resources required for successful implementation, including timelines, budgets, and resource allocation. Kickboxers develop comprehensive project plans that outline the execution strategy, resource allocation, risk management, and key milestones for the implementation phase.

The BlueBox Phase can be separated into three different parts:


1. Plan POC

This is about identifying three critical hypotheses for the idea to work.

2. Build POC

Here the innovator identifies how he/she will test the hypotheses and how the data will be collected. 

3. Evaluate POC

Determine whether the hypotheses are verified or false.


3. Implementation Phase (GoldBox)  

Approved concepts are now implemented. Kickboxers proceed with full-scale development, production, or deployment of the innovation, leveraging the insights gained from testing and evaluation to refine the solution.

Overall, there are four ways in which these innovations are usually implemented:
  • Innovation is handed over to line business by the innovator
  • The innovator creates his/her 'dream job' within the company through the idea or innovation he/she had
  • The innovator works towards a strategic spin-out
  • The innovator founds an external startup


Using an innovation funnel can offer several benefits to any organization through a structured approach focusing on viability, reducing risks, and providing an efficient and effective approach to creating value for an organization while also maximizing ROI. Making the most of an innovation funnel enhances numerous aspects of the business that ultimately drive sustainable growth by prioritizing and developing only the most promising ideas. 

Implementing an innovation funnel to validate ideas can be difficult. rready has helped many businesses to empower their employees to innovate, using the right framework. Contact us to arrange a full demo.

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