Frame It Up! The Fourth Step in the Innovation Process


Last time we spoke about the mindsets necessary to successfully complete step three of the innovation process, know people. This time we’re going to talk about the mindsets and objectives of step four of the innovation process: frame insights

During this step, the innovation team evolves away from just gathering knowledge and toward understanding that knowledge and framing any perceived insights. The team uses various analytical frameworks on the collected data to organize their thinking, gain a richer perspective on the project and extract key insights. To do this, the team moves from the real world previously researched to the abstract landscape of insights, principles, systems and ideas. The context in which innovations need to function is a complex one that has many interconnected parts. The mindset in this mode sets a foundation upon which the synthesis of valuable innovation concepts occurs.

When in frame insights mode, the most useful mindsets include:

Exploring systems – One of the core principles of every successful innovation effort is thinking in terms of systems. The team can visualize systems with network diagrams, Venn diagrams, hierarchical tree diagrams, maps and scenarios. This examination of the system from several different perspectives helps identify patterns and gain insights

Looking for patterns – Information obtained about people and context is typically complex, fuzzy and qualitative; three qualities that make a complete understanding of the information virtually impossible. Thankfully, a thorough understanding is unnecessary in order to innovate. It is more important to understand the most relevant patterns in the data and uncover the general principles that can bring focus to ideas. Patterns can be found by cataloging repeated words from interviews, plotting data points and studying the distribution, scoring, sorting and clustering related observations. These patterns enable the transition from data to general models that can be used to form a point of view, generate insights, develop innovation principles and understand how a context works.

Constructing overviews – Overviews provide a fuller understanding of the context. They function like a proprietary map that gives just enough information to generate discussion, ideas and decisions. The overviews are comprehensive and represent both the core aspects and edges of the context. The edges of the context are most important as they help the team (during the fifth and sixth step of the innovation process) look for new opportunities and develop concepts others may have missed.

Identifying opportunities – The team always remains on the lookout for the most promising opportunities grounded on the needs of the people in the context. Opportunities for innovation that others might have missed may not always be the core focus of the team, but unexplored opportunities that may exist in adjacent contexts are always in scope during the innovation process.

Developing guiding principles – The insights gained in this mode are made actionable when guidelines and principles are created in order to help the team think about what to create. The insights and observations can be clustered and translated into key guiding principles to drive the innovation generation effort.

Staying in the correct mindset during this phase of the innovation process can keep your innovation project on the right path and prepare the team for the next step – explore concepts.

Scott Severns is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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