While many of the innovation strategy examples are large organisations with a large research and development department this does not preclude you from being innovative. Initial testing through the development of a prototype is a great way to cheaply take an idea and develop a physical product that can be tested further and either accepted or discarded with minimal cost.
The development of a web site for mothers in Knoxville (see below box) is a great example of a step wise process which limits the costs of diving into full development before the demand from both customers and advertisers is determined.
Anthony, Johnson and Sinfield in their article “Driving Growth through Innovation1” provide the example of a team at the E.W. Scripps Co. who had an idea to create a web site targeting local mothers. The team’s first key assumption that required testing was whether there was a need for the website in local markets. Focus groups made up of on-staff mothers (cheap and quick) confirmed this assumption. The Scripps team then needed to determine whether advertisers would be interested in buying space on the website. The Scripps team made a mock-up of the site and showed it to advertisers. Once they realized they had enough interest from advertisers they built the site (http://knoxmoms.com/).
1 Anthony S.D., Johnson M.W., Sinfield J.V., Driving Growth Through Innovation, Financial Executive, Oct 2008.