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What Role Does Research Play in Innovation?

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Research is key in this era of big data and business intelligence. The truth be told, it is also a must when talking about innovation. Research lets you know where you are comming from and what to aim for when innovating.

I like the point that Rob Hoehn from Innovation Management makes on this topic.

A lot of innovation programs have naturally grown out of research and development groups, but most true innovation is a departure from what’s come before so what role does the “research” in “research and development” play in innovation?



Well, the answer is quite a lot. Research is an intrinsic aspect of the idea development process. Research helps guide numerous decisions that turn an idea into an innovation. So what are some of the crucial points in the idea lifecycle when you have to perform quality research?

Problem Development

Harvard Business Review asks “are you solving the right problem?” Before you start throwing out new ideas and testing solutions, it’s important that you thoroughly understand the problem you’re trying to solve so that you do more than address symptoms, but can instead respond to root causes.

Market Research

It’s important to see what your customers (and the rest of the world) care about. If you’re solving a problem that’s not relevant to a percentage of the population, then it’s unlikely that your innovation will take hold. So ask lots of questions, go for diversity, and identify some key trends to help guide your idea development.

Competitive Research

Don’t ignore the competition (maybe don’t spend all your time copying them either), but it’s important to know where you sit in the competitive landscape and where you can define your own value.

Feasibility & Requirements Research

Once you have an idea, start giving it some bones. Identify some experts to offer feedback and have them tell you what the idea will truly require. Outline your project requirements (of course they might change, but they’ll provide guideposts for successful project milestones). This research step (perhaps more than any of the other examples) is absolutely critical to implementation of a big idea.

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