February 19th, 2019

How to turn workshop ideas into profitable NPD innovation.

Our interest at Brandon was piqued recently with an article we read questioning whether the format of a workshop was actually the best way to generate new product ideas. Since, not many of the ideas from workshops seem to translate into successful products in market.

First things first, we will be not be shaming workshops today. Brand strategy workshops, innovation, activation workshops, etc… you name it…. there is nothing we don’t genuinely enjoy about running or attending a workshop that deliver transformational success to a business.

Everyone comes along with a great mindset, focused on the task, brimming with enthusiasm and excited about the possibilities. Attendants are buzzing with thoughts and ideas and a desire for collaboration and sugar…. (disclaimer: not all our workshops involve sugar. Some involve savoury snacks mainly crisps and popcorn). But then nothing happens!

So, what on earth goes wrong?

Is it the quality of the ideas? The wrong people in the room? Did the workshop wander wildly off track? Perhaps this happens but we believe the bigger issue is NEGLECT!

Not nasty, mean neglect but a lack of focusing the time and resource after the workshop to properly nourish and develop ideas so that they can grow and then really importantly the time and effort made to make them look and feel enticing enough to sell into the first hurdle….

The internal decision makers

Internal decision makers who often were not at the workshop so don’t have the warm and fuzzy positive associations of the day.

So perhaps they see a few PowerPoint slides written up into a (dare we say it…dull) black and white idea template with Getty images to visually help them get their ideas. But unsurprisingly they mostly don’t, and the idea never gets taken further. We know that within many businesses there are hundreds of amazing original ideas stored in the dusty archives.

So just how can you overcome this? 

We have put together what we believe are our top five ways to set up a successful workshop, so we wanted to share them with you:

1. Process & people – Lots of businesses talk a good talk but often struggle with building the right process and people around NPD innovation. We help you to structure the team and have a clear route-to-market process to ensure that what’s agreed in the room is actioned and doesn’t get forgotten the moment you walk out of the session. NPD Innovation is a process and not a one-off workshop, it requires a team wrapped in an agreed method to help bring something new to market…

2. A structured post workshop action planning meeting – This session is useful to plot the ideas both in terms of excitement levels and feasibility levels. Then refining down the ideas on this basis and assigning for each an idea champion who feels passionate about the idea and will do some more thinking about how to make it even stronger and articulate why they see it as so exciting.

3. Early prototyping ‘give me something to try’ – It is often hard to get product made until ideas get the green light internally, but it is only at that stage when ideas become real to people. And realness is important. We work with The Food Business who help bring to life concepts with real food. Even in a corporate work environment we guarantee that giving people something to try has a huge correlation with engagement.

4. Real designed packcepts ‘give me something to see’ – As with sharing real product, seeing a designed mocked up packaging concept (packcept) for an idea on a relevant format with the brand design is a ‘real’ shortcut to people. The idea feels more tangible, more on brand and improves excitement levels!  

5. Fail fast, fail in concept – Bringing successful innovation to market isn’t easy, its why the majority of NPD fails within its first listing. It is important that you flash test any NPD innovation with consumers to see if they’d buy into the concept, name, product, packaging format and brand identity. This doesn’t need to cost the earth. Warp speed testing with a small number of consumers is all you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

So, who’d have guessed it, people give innovation workshops a hard time. In truth they are only as good as the people, process and belief within the team to bring new ideas to market. Its why so much NPD innovation fails, and people give workshops such negative press. 

We would love to have a chat with you about your NPD Innovation workshops, processes and challenges to see if we can help structure your programme for success. Feel free to give us a call, send us a note (or carrier pigeon).