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Savoring the Innovation Process

In the culinary world, there are five taste sensations. Many are familiar with the first four: sweet, salty, bitter and sour. But the fifth is umami. Its taste is best described as rich, savory and meaty. But it’s the lack of a definitive definition that intrigues me. I once read a food blogger explain it as this: “A food has umami when it has become all that it can be, when it is at its peak of quality and fulfillment. Before that point, a food has potential for umami.” I feel the same way about innovation.

The “umami” of innovation is one of the driving forces behind why I (and all my colleagues) love what we do. Here’s why:

  • In the same way that umami brings completeness and satisfaction to the flavor experience, Ideas To Go’s own take on the creative process makes each project feel complete. Our process opens up clients to all possibilities during divergence, then works to critically evaluate the ideas to determine the best fit as we converge. That way, no idea is left behind—and the best ideas move forward.
  • As each project kicks-off, the potential for Ideas To Go's creative process diagraman innovative breakthrough is so potent you can practically taste it. Roles are explained. Forness® thinking is introduced. Objectives and expectations are set. And then the creative juices really start flowing as we head into ideation and concept development.
  • According to (the all-knowing) Wikipedia, umami induces salivation and stimulation. The same can be said for ideating with Creative Consumers® associates (CCs). Because CCs can articulate their insights, needs and wants in clear, creative, and often never-heard-before ways, clients say they just can’t get enough:

    “We chose to work with Ideas To Go on our innovation initiatives because the Creative Consumers® associates are great provocateurs. They bring a level of enthusiasm and engagement you don't often find with more traditional consumers. Their perspective on the category and the brands were insightful and helped push our team's thinking in totally new and often unexpected directions.” – Maggie Paulus, Strategy Director at International design agency LPK
  • Umami is a flavor you savor. So, too, is the experience you get from one of our innovation projects. Now before you think I’ve gone too far, know this: part of our Mission is to engage, motivate and inspire enhanced innovation for our clients—including their ongoing work back in their own offices. It’s why we teach the Forness® mindset to everyone who comes through our doors. It’s why we facilitate a collaborative and inclusive creative process, so all involved parties—from scientists to marketers to market researchers—feel comfortable giving voice to their “out-there” ideas. And it’s why we make sure everyone leaves with Next Steps—ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of where they are headed in the days, weeks and months to come.

So maybe it’s the umami of Ideas To Go that keeps clients coming back for more—hence our 35 years in business, and our 87% repeat business rate among the Fortune 500s. But it’s definitely the umami of innovation that tempts us most as we track down that next delicious idea.

photo credit: Shutterstock

©2014 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Liza Babcock

Liza Babcock is a Creative and Marketing Writer at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.