|Investigate: analyze the project.
What resources will this require?
Who all will be required to work on this?
Which departments will be involved directly/indirectly on this?
Will this be good for the organization? How?
When would be a good time to actually launch this?
What technology will this require?
What is the best way to procure that technology if the organization does not already have it?
Who will do the job of determining the target market?
What factors will make this a success?
How to encourage those factors to enable this process?
What are the various stages which would require participation from top management?
Which value-chain components need to be engaged in this process?
How would a buy-in be created for the various parties?
Does this project dilute the organization's focus or builds on it? (Here focus does not mean a narrowly defined core competency, but the very spirit of the organization.)
LEARN EVERYTHING ABOUT THE PROJECT!
The idea for the innovation, itself, needs to be incubated. What needs to be done for incubation involves you to: JUST THINK! Not only the people directly concerned with the outcome of the innovation process, but everyone within the organization and the value-chain elements who need to be involved, should be involved in the thinking process as well. To gain more insight about how the process will impact all possible facets of the organization. Insight about what exactly is being talked about.
What will change and how?
What will the repercussions be (good or bad)?
What could the possible alternatives be?
Are there any negatives to this project? (there definitely will be some)
How to counter those negatives?
What are positives? How to build further on those positives?
And please, when you do think of something that's relevant (in fact, even if you feel it is irrelevant), please WRITE IT DOWN.
When you think, you are laying ground for accuracy and speed in implementation of the project. The more you think, the fewer mistakes you tend to make during the actual implementation. Create a climate for high relaxation and high attentiveness. Observe when it is that you have your "Aha!" moment. And then do that more often!
Brainstorming rules scream one thing and then some expert comes along and shoots them all down! Your brainstorming rules should be based on your organization's culture.
What are the employees comfortable with?
Do people have the tendency to get together in large groups or smaller ones? This determines whether your brainstorming group should be large or restricted to around 12 people.
Does everyone in the organization know almost everyone else?
What is the most popular method of communication internally (telephone, fax, e-mail, teleconference, face-to-face, the coffee machine, the cafeteria)?
Do you use whiteboards for anything else except business discussions?
Do you use Post-its?
Do you use Mind-Mapping software?
All these elements can give a fair picture of how your organization should brainstorm. This was just an example of how if you illuminate yourself with the fundamentals of your organization, you will know who to turn to when you want a solution. This was the brainstorming solution, you could do much more with illumination. Illuminate yourself with the organization like it is a living person. What are its likes and dislikes, what makes it happy, what makes it sad?
Whatever knowledge that has been gleaned so far, whether directly or indirectly related to the project, should be put together into a dynamic package. A package that can be opened and read by anyone within the organization.
What is this project all about?
What does the project involve?
What kind of help would the organization require and from what quarters?
What are the rules for participation, if any?
Where is the organization going with this project?
What has been redefined?
When the parameters for the project have been defined in the previous three steps, all that has been learnt should be shared with everyone in the organization and hopefully the value-chain too. It not only lays the ground for easing the process for another innovation, it also encourages people to innovate more often, since they know their idea will not go unnoticed.