why innovation needs structure

In part three of our Innovation at SIG series, we look at how innovation really starts to take shape through generating and exploring ideas

In part two of our Innovation at SIG series, we saw how the first crucial stage of packaging innovation is to observe consumers – gathering valuable insights on their unarticled needs and problems. But what do you do with all these consumer insights, and how do you turn them into successful ideas?

From its pool of observations, SIG sorts insights into clear domains, such as hygiene, convenience and appearance. These domains then establish a platform from which ideas can be generated. But for SIG, ideation isn’t simply brainstorming and sitting in a room until you invent something. It’s utilising a diverse team of thinkers, from designers and engineers to marketeers, retailers and financial experts, whose ideas can be developed, combined and refined.

“We tend to bring in as many people from different walks of life and professional backgrounds as possible as we’re looking for a creative tension,” says Ali Kaylan, SIG’s Vice President of Global Marketing. “This means we have many different people and professions, typically between 10 and 12 people, with often competing focus areas, who can ideate within our domains together.”

Ideation for SIG is creating specific ideas attached to a consumer problem or need. This initial phase typically lasts only a few days in which early concepts are generated – sometimes up to 450 distinct ideas. In the following days and weeks, these ideas can then be processed and combined with other ideas until you’re left with a handful of concepts that are tangible and functional for further development.

Selecting the best ideas

With so many potential ideas generated, when is enough, enough? And how do you decide which ideas will or won’t work? At the end of a typical ideation session, SIG’s innovation team is asked to put their ideas to a vote. But, more importantly, these ideas are considered as to how effectively they connect to the consumer problem.

“We take all ideas – even if we have 450 – and repass them multiple times to see if highly-voted ideas overlap and match the ideas that strongly connect to the consumer problem,” says Kaylan. “Usually, there is a very high correlation in the ideas people vote for and the ideas that directly answer the problem. We can then combine and mix these good ideas to make a single concept.”

This structured method results in around 20 concepts being selected for mock-up development, followed by 6-8 food-safe prototypes. So, from a pool of several hundred ideas, you’ll typically end up with definitive shortlist for testing. And, with this kind of innovation process, SIG can fail ideas fast and early when they’re cheaper to fail, rather than fail later after substantial investment.

To learn more about the benefits of early mock-up and prototype testing, don’t miss part four of the Innovation at SIG series. We’ll explore the importance of learning from failed concepts, why it’s crucial to keep remixing successful elements and, crucially, how to determine the winning concept with consumers.

Want to know more about SIG’s innovation in the meantime? Contact us now or learn more about our commitment to Product Innovation & Differentiation.

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