Many organizations don’t invest in innovation for a number of reasons. Some have had bad experiences with it while some simply are being risk-averse to deviate from their main business model.
But regardless, innovation is vital to the growth of a business as it’s one of the major forces that drive economic growth, competitive advantage, increased revenue gains, and survival.
That’s why there are different innovation tools and techniques, invented to further facilitate innovation and make the process as smooth as possible.
There is a large number of innovation tools available and they can be grouped into six categories:
- Brainstorming Tools
- Idea Management
- Innovation Management
- Decision Making
- Knowledge Sharing
- Collaboration Software
Let’s get to know each one of them.
Brainstorming activities are as old as “innovation” itself. Traditionally, brainstorming is defined as an informal approach to generating ideas that will solve a particular problem.
During brainstorming sessions, some of the ideas may seem crazy at first, but the main goal of brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible. Criticizing insane ideas must be avoided at all costs since those ideas can either inspire other ideas or else be the solutions themselves.
One of this tool’s new features is idea categorization — which is helpful for brainstorming sessions, for example when using the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
Other examples of brainstorming tools include Miro Online Whiteboard and Bubble.us Mind Mapping Online.
Miro Online Whiteboard is a simple, collaborative whiteboard that works like a virtual post-it notes board. The notes can include various elements like kanban boards, images, videos, handwritten notes, and even mind maps.
It’s a good entry-level brainstorming tool as it’s available for free with three editable boards for unlimited team members.
Bubble.us Mind Mapping Online is a web-based mind mapping tool you can use to create a framework of ideas and concepts and connect them with each other or with some other subtopics.
However, the free plan is only for individual use, though you can always share the finished mind map with others without any charge. To collaborate with others, using a dedicated live collaboration board tool is the best option.
Idea Management Tools
By definition, idea management is a structured process for collecting ideas and sorting them out to find the best, most valuable idea to roll out as a project and, eventually, implement.
If a brainstorming tool helps with ideation, an idea management tool is for collecting the ideas generated during the previous session and organizing them.
Idea management tools come in different shapes and sizes…
In fact, some of the ideation tools can also be used to manage the ideas generated during the brainstorming sessions. Take note, however, that a dedicated idea management tool usually has a feature that’s designed to facilitate the “management” process.
That’s why Accept Mission has an “Inbox” feature. With this feature, you don’t only collect ideas seamlessly, you can also categorize and place them in different boxes.
Other examples of idea management tools include Google Docs (and Forms) as well as Microsoft Excel.
Google Docs has a personal plan that you can use for free. As part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), it’s a good place to save ideas that can be visited in the future. Google Forms is also a good tool to collect ideas from your team members.
Microsoft Excel is a popular spreadsheet tool you can use to store all the ideas generated. With a bit of modification, you can add customizations like dropdowns, illustrations, and interactive tables to manage the ideas easier.
The online version can be used for free while the desktop version needs an Office 365 subscription. On the other hand, keep in mind that Excel is an outdated way of doing this compare to using a dedicated idea management tool like Accept Mission.
From the name itself, this type of innovation tool helps you make better and clearer decisions.
In a way, a decision-making tool should help you structure out the possibilities of your decision, as well as the costs that each result brings.
It’s also ideal if the tool will allow you to see your chances of success or failure.
That’s why Accept Mission has a selection tool. It’s basically a scoring system where you can design the criteria yourself and invite anyone to score an idea based on that criteria. The result is an ordered list of the ideas that are ranked according to the scores given.
Knowledge Sharing Tools
A few ideas generated during brainstorming could be wild and out of this world. But that’s the beauty of innovation. If your innovation core group isn’t made up of diverse people with all sets of ideas, then you need to add more to your group. That’s because:
The individuals in the innovation group have to be diverse, since different people may possess different kinds of knowledge. A knowledge sharing tool helps share “who” has “what” knowledge to further push an excellent idea to execution.
Though Zoom is purely for communication, Slack is a channel-based collaboration and messaging platform. It has integration options with thousands of applications so you and your team can share knowledge as well as work together on a project without leaving Slack. Teams functionality is wider and integrates well in the Office environment of organizations.
In addition, online storage platforms like Google Drive can also be counted as a knowledge sharing tool. You will need to have a place to store all your chats and email during a digital brainstorming session.
Google Drive will allow you to save all your files and retrieve them later on. You can also assign specific individuals who “seem to know more” about the subject matter to provide more information.
A collaboration tool helps in collaboration and sharing insights and ideas among the innovation group. This will empower the core group to coordinate on innovation projects in a more efficient way.
Having an effective collaboration is important, especially now many of the core members are probably working from their homes.
With Accept Mission, you and your team can collaborate on ideas easily by sharing knowledge and improving each other’s ideas. Users can follow and like certain ideas and get notifications and insights in case there’s any change or progress.
There’s also a smart kanban feature that helps you and your team see the overview of all ideas in every stage. It’s a drag and drop tool that provides real-time insights.
Accept Mission also has a new tool called “Boards”, which is basically a live collaboration solution. It helps with facilitating quick idea additions and sharpening strategies as well as empower smart idea selection through decision-making.
Innovation Management Tools
The main purpose of an innovation management tool is to help you manage the whole innovation process from start to finish.
An innovation management tool, or innovation software, will help you generate and assess innovative ideas and implement the best ones.
Naturally, the tool must be able to support the whole process and provide value each step of the way through collaboration and organized selection processes.
A good innovation management tool must have the features that are available with the tools mentioned above like brainstorming, managing ideas, decision making, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
The truth is that an innovation management tool is the only tool you will ever need. But many people resort to using individual tools because they usually don’t know that an all-in-one platform like this exists.
Admittedly, there are quite a few innovation software providers out there. However, Accept Mission is the most complete innovation platform you can possibly use, and it has all the tools you need for innovation projects.
Enhance your innovation process with tools and techniques
Innovation tools are important in progressing the innovation process. But take note that they are not substitutes for people who pitch in ideas and insights. These tools only work if you have inputs to provide.
Without any ideas, no innovation will ever take place.
There are many innovation tools out there and we can categorize them into six main types:
- Brainstorming tools: Helps in generating ideas for innovation. Good tools usually have features that help stimulate brainstorming like gamification and mind-mapping.
- Idea management tools: Helps in collecting the ideas during the brainstorming session and in organizing them so when they will be used, retrieving them quickly will not be an issue.
- Decision-making tools: Helps in structuring out the possibilities of the ideas generated as well as the result they bring. Good decision-making tools make it easy for the team to assess the ideas generated.
- Knowledge sharing tools: Helps the innovation group share information with each other to help move the idea even further. Some of the members may know more about a certain topic more than the others so this tool should be a safe space for that person to share his thoughts.
- Collaboration software: Helps in collaboration as well as in sharing insights among the innovation group. It should help coordinate the members on innovation projects in a more efficient manner.
- Innovation management tools: Helps in managing the whole innovation process from start to finish. Good innovation software must possess tools to support the whole innovation project.
Next steps: Of all the tools mentioned, innovation platforms are the most complete. Accept Mission is an all-round innovation software that could help your business innovation process from start to finish.