Our experience tells us that many companies are in serious need of innovation, it’s even becoming a cliché. Startups are attacking existing and new markets at enormous speed. So it’s about time to find the intrapreneurs within your company, and give them the right tools to get started. Before we get started, I’d like to say that if you have questions concerning this post, you can always reach out on Twitter or via mail.
How do you get started?
Find out which of your employees are full of ideas and can’t wait to develop new products, explore new markets or find new revenue streams for your company. Once you shaped your company’s innovation squad, it’s important to provide them with the right tools. Many companies are afraid of what this might cost, but we’ll keep it simple. In this post we’ll list some tools, you’ll be able to get for only $100 per month.
To give you and your team some guidance, I’ll split the innovation process in 4 tracks: ideation, concept development, prototyping and user feedback. For each of these tracks you’ll need different (professional) tools. I made a quick round of all of our innovation consultants and asked them which are their favourite tools for each track, and here are the results.
This is my favourite stage of an innovation process. I love thinking and reading about new ideas and products that are making the world a better place. Springwise is one of the websites I love the most: it’s a global innovation discovery engine. Everyday, they list the best new innovations from all over the world. You can find many new startups by just scrolling through the daily feed. For $25 a month, they’ll give you full access to their idea database.
Another great way to get your innovators inspired is by letting them read. But as we understand, reading many books takes a lot of time. That’s why we love Audible and Blinklist so much. Audible is Amazon’s database of audiobooks. It’s amazing how many books you can finish while driving your car. Of course, this service has a free trial; you can try this service 30 days for free. And if you think it’s helping you, $15 a month will buy you a subscription. If audiobooks aren’t working, Blinkist might be a great alternative, I’m a big fan of this service as well. These guys summarized almost every business book in +/- 10 pages. It gives you the essence of every book, in only 15-20 minutes. You can use this service free and paid. With the free option, you’ll get one pre-selected book a day. By paying $57 a year ($4,75 a month), you can read any ‘Blink’ you want: definitely worth it. Recently they added audio books as well, so the summaries are told to you. The package that includes these spoken summaries costs you $114 a year ($9,50 a month).
The last tool for ideation is one we’ve made ourselves, and the good thing is that it’s free. Our analogy thinking cards are ideal for creative brainstorm exercises. We made a selection of interesting startups to learn from, listed their top 3 innovative features and we explained their business model. The exercise is to pick your favourite elements from different cards and combine them.
2. Concept development
When your team has gathered enough ideas, they need to choose which ideas are worth building. A great book to get them started might be value proposition design, which will only cost you $22 and will give your team a great basis to get started.
To develop your own concept, you might want to use our two tools as well – no worry, they’re free. The innovation battlefield tool helps you to prioritize your most important features and facilitates decision making on how to take them forward.
When you have your concept in mind, against the wall or just on paper, it’s time to develop a working prototype. A low-budget prototype is a great way to get some feedback from test users before you invest a lot of money in an actual app. Our favourite prototyping tool is InVision, the world’s leading platform for creating workflows. Recently they’ve launched Invision V5, in which they reengineered almost everything, based on the feedback from the designers of the world’s greatest startups. It’s free for one project, with priced plans starting at $15 a month. If you don’t like InVision, Atomic might be a great alternative for you.
Another tool we swear by, is POP (prototyping on paper). This app helps you to make on-screen links between several paper prototype images. So to use this you won’t need software, this app loves paper so your drawings / sketches are enough. You can use POP for free for 2 projects, thereafter priced plans will start at $10 a month.
A tool you might not have expected in this list is Keynote, we love it. You can upload all your ‘screens’ as slides and play your flow like you do with a presentation. It gives you a (programmed) prototype that will show people what your product can do. In our opinion, Keynote is a must have tool for every innovation project, it’s available for only $19,99.
As a last prototyping tool, I’m adding PlaceIt: for only $12 a month you can start downloading beautiful product mockups and videos.
4. User feedback
As soon as your prototype is ready, you need feedback from clients, test users, … It will be this feedback that brings you to your final product. At first it might be quite helpful to set up a landing page with more information about the product you’re working on. We use Strikingly most of the time, which enables you to create stunning pages in only minutes. You can use the software for free for one page. If you want to create more than one page, there are paid plans of $8 and $16 a month.
We often add some of our surveys / polls to these landing pages. Most of the time we just use Google Forms or Typeform to get quick user feedback. At last, when your product is ready, Peek might be a good tool to get feedback from other people. You can test a couple of users for free, afterwards you’ll have to upgrade (to a paid plan).
Now that you know which tools your team will need during the whole innovation process, it’s time to wrap up how much these tools will cost you.
Software & Cost = Springwise $16 + Blinkist $4.75 + Analogy thinking cards $0 + Feature mapper $0 + Innovation battlefield $0 + InVision $15 + POP $10 + Placeit $12 + Strinkingly $16 + Keynote $1.66 + Typeform $20 = $95.41
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