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How to innovate: A 5-step guide from innovation experts

Securitas’ Innovation Team shares a practical guide with a step-by-step process on how to innovate so you, too, can be an agent of change.

5 min read

While tech companies often steal the spotlight in discussions about innovation, there’s perhaps an unlikely industry developing cutting-edge solutions that impact our lives every day: the security industry.

This industry combines human ingenuity with tech innovation to help businesses stay one step ahead of emerging threats and their associated risks. It’s powering solutions that help protect our environment, like this innovative use of sensors and AI to help predict and prevent wildfires. And it’s helping to improve and optimize care for the world’s aging population.

We know a thing or two about innovation, and at Securitas, we even have an Innovation Team, which has curated this step-by-step guide. We believe anyone can innovate, and this process helps to embed innovation into our culture and empower colleagues to take an active role.

The process is based on the proven design thinking framework, a non-linear, iterative process in which the user is at the core of every step along the way. When we say user, it could be clients, employees, or partners – essentially, the stakeholders who will most likely want (and use) what we’re developing.

By involving users in the design process and incorporating their feedback and insights, we can create products or services that are more practical, usable, and enjoyable. This approach can lead to higher user satisfaction, increased adoption and usage, and ultimately, help create better business outcomes.

So, when you’re ready to innovate, follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: Empathize

The first step is getting to know your target users and gaining valuable insights that will help you make better decisions. Put yourself in their shoes; collect all the assumptions and beliefs you have from your target users and write them down.

Prepare an interview guide and talk with experts to gain different perspectives from people who have relevant knowledge. Immerse yourself in your target users’ physical environment and observe how they interact with an existing product or service.

Once you’ve developed the best possible understanding of your users by knowing what they think, feel, say, and do, you’re ready for the next step.

Step 2: Define

In this step, you’ll focus on outlining your users’ needs and problems. What common themes and patterns did you observe in step one? What user needs and challenges consistently came up?

Take some time to reflect on all those findings and decide the one that you would like to solve. Next, define your problem statement. This should outline the issue or challenge you would like to address from your users’ perspective. Remember, this is your users’ problem and not the company’s problem.

Step 3: Ideate

This is a judgment-free stage where we encourage you to move away from the norm, explore new angles, and challenge the status quo.

Do some desk research to find inspiration. Search for best practices in the industry, or how other institutions are solving similar problems. Are there new technologies that enable new opportunities?

Start your brainstorm sessions and come up with as many ideas as possible. Then, after collecting all your ideas, try to narrow them down. Decide on two to four ideas before moving to the next stage. In case you feel stuck, we recommend you vote on your favorite ideas individually first, then move forward with the ones that collected the most votes.

Step 4: Prototype

During this step, you’ll bring your concept to life. The purpose of the prototyping stage is to turn your ideas into something tangible that can be tested with real users to get early feedback before developing the full product or service. This way, you can quickly adjust it without too many obstacles or limitations.

Build a prototype for the different ideas that could reflect the value proposition for your users. The better they understand the concept, the better the insights you collect.

By the end of this stage, you might have a clearer understanding of your product or service and have overcome some challenges that were difficult to anticipate. The most important thing is to have a testable prototype before moving to the next stage.

Step 5: Test

Finally, it’s time to test your prototype! First, identify your objective for testing. What do you want to learn and what decisions will you make as a result? This will help you decide on who to test with, in what context, and what data to collect.

Invite your users for a testing session, ideally in the real context within which they would use the product or service. You want to see your users interact with your prototype and hear what they have to say. After the interviews, gather all the insights and make the adjustments needed to your prototype. Remember: You’re trying to test it, not validate it!

Keep in mind that this innovation framework is an iterative process. To get the best possible outcome, we recommend you revisit the different steps and keep improving your idea. The process should only stop once you have strong evidence that you have a product or service your users want.

Tell your story

Now all that’s left to do is tell your story. Storytelling is what ties all your work together into a masterpiece. If you’re unable to show your findings in a way that resonates with your audience, all that hard work might end up lost on a shelf (or in a folder).

So, start innovating with this five-step process, have fun along the way, then go write your story. Innovation is a creative journey, and one that’s most rewarding when you have fun and collaborate with others. Good luck!

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