Building a Concrete Plan for Short-Term and Long-Term Product Innovation
LATICRETE is a family-owned, customer-focused manufacturer of green flooring and facade materials for construction projects around the globe. The company wanted to do a deep dive into innovation and ideation with some creative, out-of-the-box thinking. The team had tried conducting their own innovation workshops internally, but had hit a wall. They were having trouble generating enough ideas, and weren’t sure how to carry out the ideas they did come up with.
We see this happen often—companies want to be more innovative, but have a hard time breaking out of ingrained habits. They start to feel like they’re hearing the same ideas over and over again, or they have ideas but feel stuck when it comes to implementing them.
We worked with LATICRETE on a custom brainstorm session designed to fill their “idea funnel” and get to a short list of actionable short-term and long-term ideas to prioritize over the next year.
To prime the creative pump, we asked the people attending the brainstorm session to do a bit of preparation and thinking beforehand. This involved putting themselves into the perspectives of their customers to discover what they needed or wanted to make their lives better. Or, put another way, what would delight their customers?
LATICRETE gathered 27 team members to participate in the ideation workshop. We kicked things off with a high-energy improv exercise to review and practice some ideation basics:
- Action over discussion
- Creativity over evaluation
- Suspend judgment
- Embrace imperfection
- Purposely diverge from the norm
- As wishes/hopes emerge, turn them into ideas
Over the course of Day 1, we brainstormed ideas for five different business segments, from resinous flooring and tile installation to construction chemicals. Each segment centered on new ideation techniques. We shuffled the participants into new groups throughout the day to mix things up and spark fresh thinking.
For the first ideation exercise, “Get Fired,” we challenged the teams to think of a problem and come up with as many radical ideas as they could—things that could technically work, but were so out of the box they could also get you fired.
Next, we challenged them to take another look at those ideas using the GPS method (Good, Problem, Solution). What’s good about the idea? What’s a related solution that keeps the good and ditches the bad? This created a flurry of Sharpie® scribbles on sticky notes, turning ideas that might get you fired into ones that would get you hired.
In the second ideation exercise, we shifted focus to the company’s construction chemicals division. Participants generated “I wish” statements, and then ideas based on those statements. We tested the limits of functionality and feasibility, drilling down and brainstorming more to zero in on three game-changing ideas.
We covered all five business segments through a mix of creative, engaging activities, generating a whopping 1,000 ideas by the time we called it a day.
On Day 2, we focused on funneling those 1,000 ideas down to the best 25 and developing a prioritized roadmap for implementation and further development. We broke into groups to drill down into those 25 ideas, mapping them on a matrix of effort vs. time. To aid consensus-building as well as the timeline, the two people who worked on each final idea’s “Idea Dashboard” were empowered to map it on the matrix however they saw fit—and only ask the crowd for input if they felt they needed it.
The result was a tight list of innovative, actionable ideas that LATICRETE can focus on implementing for short-term and long-term impact. Participants came away with a powerful new toolset for generating breakthrough ideas in the future.
To what extent did the completed project meet expectations and objectives, and achieve desired outcomes?
“Play the percentages and embrace experimentation. If you want more of the best ideas, you need more ideas, period.”