7 Steps to Getting the Best Innovation Initiative Statements

7 Steps to Getting the Best Innovation Initiative Statements


"If I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions." -Albert Einstein


With simple customer insights, our crowdsourced innovation challenges can be much more effective.

Consider these similar questions:

A) If you hosted a game night tomorrow, what board game(s) would you provide.
B) If you hosted a game night tomorrow for seven children, ages 4-6, who are learning English as their second language, what game(s) would you provide?

…if you brought Monopoly to the children in scenario (B.), the game night wouldn’t go very well! Clearly, if we ask the wrong question, we’ll get the wrong answer.

Similarly, for corporate innovation challenges, we need to ask the right question to get the right answer. To do that, we should seek to better understand our customer and use that insight to craft a more specific topic statement. We recommend the following steps:



1. Zoom in on One Part of the Customer Experience
Begin by mapping out your customer’s experience. Then drill down into a single aspect of that experience and make a list of all its attributes.

Our Example: A restaurant wants to earn a Michelin star. To accomplish that, where should it begin?



2. Conduct Empathy-Based Customer Research
After choosing one aspect of the customer experience to improve, explore it by getting to know the associated issues and customers. Use this opportunity to learn about your customer with child-like curiosity! For now, just be curious; don’t analyze yet.

You can find troves of resources that explains design research techniques. However, for now we’re just focusing on what to do with the outputs. Start by trying two to three of these primary techniques:

  • Mainstream-user interview
  • Extreme-user interview
  • Focus group
  • Immersion/Shadowing
  • Remote ethnography: user-generated journaling (photo, video, or verbal)


3. Mine for Observations
Now, mine the outputs of your research (photo, video, raw notes) for observations: write one observation per sticky note:

  • What the customer is doing or feeling
  • What’s happening around them
  • What’s NOT happening

Keep in mind that it’s still not time to analyze. Act like a sports broadcaster examining the individual plays of a baseball game, rather than the post-game analyst. Analysis comes later.

Our Example: Observing a Michelin-star restaurant…



4. Create Themes
It’s at this point when the picture starts to come together. Rearrange the sticky notes to create clusters of related observations.

Then write a theme (2-5 words) that describes each cluster. Your wall should be filled with clusters, like this:


Our Example Theme:
Fine dining doesn’t attract solo diners.


5. Convert Themes into Insights
Now that you’ve assembled your observations into themes, you’ll want to convert each theme into an insight. Although nuanced, there’s an important difference between observations and insights.

Follow this formula to write insight statements from the customer’s point of view, ending with a point of tension:

"I [action]
because [reason why],
however [tension/issue]"

Our Example Insight:
I love fine dining
because I appreciate world-class cuisine and presentation,
however I am eating alone so much when I travel that I end up at bars so I don’t feel self-conscious.


6. Write Opportunity Statements

Finally, with a series of insights you can craft the topic statement for your crowdsourced innovation challenge. Turn the tension of the insight statement into an opportunity by asking the question, “How might we…?”

Our Example Opportunity:
How might we bring the Michelin Star experience to more solo diners to capture business travelers who find themselves seeking world-class cuisine without companions?


7. Begin Problem-Solving
With a few good candidates of “how-might-we” statements, you can select the best one to begin brainstorming. Then harvest the intelligence of your crowd to address that question by launching a crowd-sourced innovation challenge in Brightidea.

Sample Challenge Statement in Brightidea:


Sample Idea submission in Brightidea:


Go Forth and Innovate!
In corporate innovation, when we try to find the next great opportunity or solve a tricky problem, it can be tempting to offer up a broad question to the crowd with the expectation that we’ll get the right answer. However, we must help the crowd to help us. We do that by being specific, articulate, and direct with our question. You’ll find that by unpacking (deconstructing?) the customer experience, you can get far more valuable information, which you can then act on.







As always, please consult your Customer Success Manager if you wish to have a more detailed conversation. 


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