Turn Ideas into Reality

Despite the increasing need for innovation, many organisations still struggle with the challenges of both generating creative solutions and being able to put them into practice. This Hot Topic research focuses on how to make sure your activities or processes are successfully realised, introducing a simple exercise to better free up resources, and provide you with a checklist to get the innovation governance responsibilities right.

October 2017 Special Issue 2

Free-up Resources

Too many ideas turn into “zombie projects”, walking undead, shuffling along slowly but not heading anywhere.

Most executives will freely admit that their innovation engine doesn’t hum the way they would like it to. Turning sundry innovation efforts into a function that operates consistently and at scale is a monumental task.

Reality is, that for most organisations, if they track their innovation efforts, substantial duplication and fruitless efforts come to light. One way to release resources to get your team up and running is to institute a “zombie amnesty”. In practice, create a window, with no penalty for purging a project, to dismiss all ideas that are too small, not strategic enough, or too riddled with difficult-to-address risks to justify continuing, etc. One round of amnesty will probably release enough resources to get your innovation team up and running. Hold the exercise every couple of years to ensure that efforts haven’t wandered off course.

The CLEAR IDEAS Framework

Based on many years of research, Dr. Kamal Birdi’s CLEAR IDEAS framework is developed to help organisations generate AND implement new ideas more effectively. Evidence shows that this approach can have a big impact on performance and organisational outcomes. An evaluation has showed that 98% agreed/strongly agreed that the CLEAR IDEAS model is a useful way of dealing with problems and 99% agreed/strongly agreed it was relevant for their job needs.

The IDEAS section of the model describes a creative problem-solving approach to define opportunities for innovation, generate new ideas and select the best ones.

The different stages of the CLEAR IDEAS innovative solution development process:

1 Systematically identify and prioritise major causes of the problem.
2 Generate lots of creative new solutions.
3 Assess the quality of your solutions.
4 Generate strategies for getting buy-in from different stakeholders.
5 Clarify roles and responsibilities for implementing the solution.
6 Ensure strategic fit of your solution.
7 Create a timing plan for implementing your innovation.
8 Export your problem-solving thinking and planning to share with colleagues.


Sources: Sheffield University (2017) CLEAR IDEAS: A clearer view on innovation. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2017]; Wouter, A., De Smet, A., and Weerda, K. (2015) Agility: It rhymes with stability. McKinsey Quarterly, Dec 2015 [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12 September 2017]; Anthony S., Duncan D.S., Siren, P.M.A. (2014) Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days, Harvard Business Review, Dec 2014.

Referenced techniques


Business Innovation

The concept explores innovation and how it can create and capture value for organisations. It will provide professionals with a basic understanding business innovation.


Business Process Improvement

Business process improvement (BPI) can enhance internal organisational efficiency and change the way organisations function. The concept provides an overview of BPI and describes the process and tasks used to support an organisational objective.


Capability Management

Capability management is an effective technique for creating market change and to sustain long-term competitive advantage in fast-moving markets. Learn how to use dynamic capabilities as organisational and strategic routines to deploy and reconfigure your firm’s resources.

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