Ideas that fail to launch. What’s getting in the way?

By: Saadia Muzaffar

It’s the classic story of a great idea falling by the wayside. A pharmaceutical company was set to launch in a new direction until the legal department squelched the idea because the idea was seen as going against the company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs). Unfortunately, the SOPs were written for a different environment but because of this roadblock, the new idea failed to launch.

The above example was given at February’s session of Innovate Forward on idea generation. Attendees from advanced manufacturing in Mississauga, Peel and Brampton shared with the speakers the hard reality of idea generation in companies that haven’t deliberately set up a culture of innovation, both for generating ideas and evaluating them through a managed process.

“Organizations either don’t share ideas or the ideas get shot down quickly”, says Andrew Maxwell, Chief Innovative Officer at the Canadian Innovation Centre, mentor and presenter for Innovate Forward, “Or they have no way of capturing ideas, knowing when and where to innovate.”

Guest speaker, Coby Segall, Group Lead – Research and Innovation at Psion Canada, provided refreshing optimism for how some companies get it right. Everyday, Psion leverages the ideas of its 900 employees through a crowdsourcing forum, and uses internal R&D Theme teams to identify priority innovation ideas. Two months of brainstorming in 2010, for example, produced 25 research proposals in different theme areas for PSION.

“It’s all about creating a culture of innovation, something not always on the minds of busy advanced manufacturers,” added RIC Entrepreneur in Residence, Tim Scott. Scott shared with the group a flow chart for moving ideas through a process, evaluating along the way to make sure you stay on track. “Manufacturing needs to deliberately put an innovation culture in place so that people can bring their ideas forward and engage through all levels of the organization,” he advises.

Innovate Forward is getting high praise from attendees for the quality of speakers, the amount of practical tools and pragmatic “tell it like it is” advice that smaller companies can implement right away. The next session, will look at How to Evaluate New Ideas, with Industry Guest Speaker: Paul Smith, Vice President and Centre Manager of Xerox Research Centre of Canada.

All six sessions are free, with registration ahead of time and held at the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, Sheridan College, Brampton. Each session is targeted towards entrepreneurs developing innovative technologies in the advanced manufacturing sector, with the intention of fostering ideas, sharing successes and failures and gaining mentoring support.

“Thank you to all of the organizers of Innovate > Forward, and to the guest speakers.
 Sartrex Power Control Systems is looking forward to the next session.”

Sartrex Power Control Systems Inc., Concord, Ontario

Saadia joins the RIC team as the Operations Coordinator responsible for building and execution of activities that fulfill RIC’s mandate. She brings several years of relationship management, corporate communications and operations experience mainly from the financial services industry. 

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.


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