10-Step Innovation Process

Let’s explore the 10-step innovation process, broadly divided into two main stages: Insight Generation and Solution Development.

The insight generation stage, comprises the first 5 steps, about generating deep insights into who your customers are, what they need, and where the opportunities for innovation lie. It involves a thorough understanding of the customer landscape, identifying unmet needs, and prioritizing these needs based on their potential for impact. The focus here is on laying a solid foundation for innovation by ensuring that the efforts are directed toward real, pressing problems that customers face. This phase is critical for ensuring that the innovation process is guided by customer-centric insights, making the solutions developed in the subsequent steps as relevant and impactful as possible.

The solution development stage, comprising the last 5 steps takes us from insight to action. This involves generating ideas about potential solutions, selecting the most promising ideas, prototyping these ideas, and rigorously testing them with real users to gather feedback. The iterative nature of this process ensures that the final product or service is well-tuned to the customer’s needs and ready for a successful launch. This phase is where ideas come to life and are transformed into viable products or services that can be introduced to the market.


1. Identify Your Customers

Start with clarity on who your customers are. This insight shapes everything that follows. It’s about pinpointing the exact group whose problems you’re equipped to solve. Think of them not just as users, but as individuals with unique contexts and challenges.

2. Identify Jobs to Be Done

Each customer has jobs they’re trying to accomplish. These jobs can be functional, like completing a task or solving a problem, or emotional, like achieving a sense of well-being. Grasping these jobs in their entirety allows you to frame your innovation in terms of real-world applications. It’s about seeing the world through your customers’ eyes and understanding the tasks they’re hiring products or services to complete.

3. Identify Customer Needs

For every job, there’s an ideal outcome the customer seeks. This step involves articulating these desired outcomes clearly. What does success look like for them? These outcomes should be measurable and specific, enabling you to design solutions that hit the mark precisely. It’s not just about what your product does, but about the success it enables customers to achieve.

4. Identify Unmet Needs

Here, you identify where current solutions fall short in delivering on the desired outcomes. These gaps represent your opportunities for innovation. It’s about listening closely to customer frustrations and disappointments. These unmet needs are the clues that guide you towards what your innovation should address.

5. Prioritize Unmet Needs

Not all gaps are worth filling. This step involves evaluating which unmet needs are most acute and represent the largest opportunity for your business. Consider factors like the size of the customer segment struggling with these needs, the intensity of their struggle, and your ability to meet these needs in a unique way. This prioritization ensures your innovation efforts are both impactful and strategic.


6. Ideate Solutions

With a clear understanding of the prioritized unmet needs, generate ideas for potential solutions. This creative process should generate a wide array of ideas, from incremental improvements to radical innovations. Encourage diversity of thought and challenge assumptions about what’s possible. The goal is to imagine new ways to deliver on the desired outcomes your customers seek.

7. Select Top Ideas

From the ideation pool, select the ideas with the highest potential. Assess ideas based on criteria like feasibility, scalability, and alignment with customer needs. This selection process requires a balance of intuition and analysis, ensuring the chosen ideas are not only exciting but also viable.

8. Build a Prototype

Transform your ideas into tangible prototypes. These early models bring concepts to life, allowing you to explore their practical application and iterate on design. Prototyping is a hands-on step that moves you from theoretical solutions to concrete examples. It’s about making your ideas testable.

9. Test Your Prototype

Testing involves putting your prototypes in the hands of real users. Gather feedback on usability, effectiveness, and how well the solution meets the identified needs. This step is critical for learning what works and what doesn’t, enabling you to refine your prototype based on actual user experiences. It’s an iterative process of test, learn, and improve.

10. Launch Your Solution

After refining your solution through testing, it’s time to launch. This step is about bringing your innovation to market, but it’s also the beginning of a new cycle of learning and iteration. Monitor how your product or service performs, stay responsive to customer feedback, and be prepared to make ongoing adjustments. Launching is not the end; it’s a new phase of engagement with your market.