How is your fuzzy front end?
It might sound like a rather personal question, but in fact if you’re in the business of innovation, it’s an important one.
Rob Munro and Frank Mattes of innovation.support discuss this topic in their recent article on InnovationManagement.se, dividing organisational innovation into two processes: the fuzzy front end, and the efficient back end.
The fuzzy front end is all about insights and idea generation – it’s the divergent bit of creative problem-solving, the blue skies brainstorm, the doodling on a piece of paper, the prototyping and trial and error. The efficient back end, by contrast, is where you actually start making products, or services, or business models.
Some lucky innovations start with an idea and move to the efficient back end swiftly – but for companies wanting to make innovation happen from scratch, the fuzzy front end is incredibly important and can’t be skimped.
The article discusses some of the ways companies make this fuzzy front end happen, including open innovation, creating innovation labs, and venture capital, among others, pointing out that excellence in the fuzzy front end:
“does not come overnight. It requires sustained investments in several ways, coupled with trial and error and continuous optimization over several years.”
The article is a three parter – we’re looking forward to reading the next two – but in the mean time, it’s worth considering whether your own fuzzy front end is sufficiently well developed to promote real innovation in your organisation.