What is an innovation zoo?

An idea zoo or innovation zoo, sometimes also called an idea zoo, is where there are more ideas and innovation projects than there are resources to complete them successfully.

What are some common causes of an idea zoo?

Innovation zoos or idea zoos are caused when too many ideas are generated and too many small-scale innovation projects are created that lack a connection to the strategy. The more ideas you generate, the more difficult it becomes to identify the good ones. Although it sounds sensible to increase the number of ideas, it squanders attention across a wide number of possibilities. Many small projects get started, but few go to scale.

How can you avoid an idea zoo?

To avoid an idea zoo, put boundaries around ideation so it is more tightly aligned with the firm’s strategic intent, resources, and core competencies. This allows a wide diversity of ideas, but in more focused swim lanes- leading to a higher probability that those ideas reflect the strategy. You can create boundaries in three steps:

  1. Identify your ambition- what you want to achieve.
  2. Create a strategy manifesto that explains to employees the what and why of your ambition that serves as a touchstone for innovation.
  3. Define the most promising Hunting Zones– those market areas that present attractive potential opportunities for your company. Focusing your energy on the greatest areas of opportunity will increase the yield on innovation investment.