When most companies are started, the founder discovered and capitalized on an opportunity in the market. There was a customer need that wasn’t being fulfilled and the founder created a business to deliver value on that need.

As the years go on, others will see the opportunity and move into the market as well. Then all of a sudden, the business is in heavy competition with continuous assaults on margin.

A solid marketing strategy can absolutely help fight the natural product/service lifecycle curve, prolonging and improving profitability, but thinking you can continue to live on the success of an idea implemented years and years ago is a fool’s game. Innovating; finding another meaningfully unique idea that your company can capitalize on, is the only way to reset the lifecycle curve.

So how do you innovate?

Innovation must come from within. Your employees (from front-line to management) see one piece of the puzzle from one unique perspective. Getting a diverse team in the room is the first step.

Before you start innovating, you need to have a clearly-defined “sandbox” for the innovation team to work in. Are they looking to improve a system or to capitalize on an opportunity?

The next step is to come up with ideas. Traditional brainstorming can work, but it isn’t 100% effective. Sometimes you will hit a home run, other times, you’ll get stuck or derailed. Sherpa uses a process called Innovation Engineering. The process introduces stimulus to the brainstorming session and a variety of different thought exercises to break the group out of ruts and facilitate creativity.

Getting an idea (or in the case of a solid ‘create session’, many dozens of ideas) is only half the battle. Before you invest precious dollars into an idea, it is prudent to figure out whether the idea has legs.

This is where FAIL FAST, FAIL CHEAP comes in. What real world experiments and testing can you run to rule the idea out? This will not guarantee success, but it can go a long way to cheaply excluding ideas that you may have otherwise proceeded with.

Create a culture of innovation in your organization – the future of your company will thank you for it!