Why Innovation Teams Should Untap Existing Assets To Enrich Future Projects.

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

by | 19 May, 2021 | Untapped Thinking

Our recent Innovation Gym webinar explored the topic of Asset Mining with guest speakers Rob Morgan and Dr Youmna Mouhamad. Here at Untapped, we typically define Asset Mining as a process that takes teams back through existing knowledge-based assets before embarking on an innovation project. 

Throughout the webinar, we discussed the benefits of such a process, and here’s an overview as to why innovation teams should untap existing assets to enrich future projects.

“Asset mining requires you to look in the rearview mirror.” 

– Deirdre Walters, Untapped Innovation Partner

You have likely invested quite a bit of your budget in past innovation as a team or business. Commercially, think of the asset mining process as a Return-On-Past-Investment and sift through your knowledge-based assets to untap buried gems of information. We don’t need to learn the same things over and over again.

Every business is sitting on these riches. They come in the form of existing knowledge of the target user, product or service and even the market and competitor trends. These types of assets are frequently lying dormant or underused, yet they are incredibly valuable to your future innovation.

The barrier to using such knowledge-based assets is that innovation is intuitively more ‘forward facing’. It is necessary to challenge the instinct of ‘forward facing’ innovation and get clients to look in their business’ rearview mirror. Of course, we appreciate that generating ‘new data’ can feel more exciting and relevant and that mining ‘past data’ feels less commercially viable. However, tacit knowledge is the result of prior money spent and by mining the assets from historical work, you are making your past budget work even harder for you.

“Knowledge based asset mining brings the great aspects of old ideas and refreshes them for future innovation.

 – Dr Youmna Mouhamad, Director of Myana Naturals 

Coming from a PHD background that focused on project management, it’s easy to prioritise the tasks that help complete the project. Once that project is complete, we review and close, often not looking back again, especially when we take on new innovation. Yet, there are so many knowledge spillovers from previous projects that are worth mining. You may not realise its original value at the time, but a lot can be said for bringing old ideas to a future project.

At Untapped, we see this as a Return-On-Future-Investment. Mining the assets from past work identifies what we know, so we can identify ‘what we don’t yet know’. That allows teams to fill in knowledge gaps and gather new data on the areas where it’s needed.

“Sub-category innovation is highly valuable, and asset mining will benefit it.”

– Rob Morgan, Sir Julian Hodge Chair and Professor of Marketing & Strategy 

Knowledge-based asset mining is the norm in the academic world, but it quickly gets lost in the world of business. You can look at past research studies based on your target audience, but knowledge within your company is just as valuable. 

Global companies need to create a culture where teams have the time and resources to explore existing assets, as it’s that investment that leads to meaningful innovations. As Andrex proved with their Product Of The Year toilet tissue, sub-category innovation is far more valuable than starting something from scratch. However, it’s challenging to make sub-category innovation a success without looking back. 

Allowing for that Return-On-People-Investment brings the opportunity to set time aside to dig deep with a questioning approach. From a project management point of view, asset mining frequently ‘smoothens the way’ and can make the objectives stick better in the organisation.

Key Asset Mining Takeaways 

That leads us to the three key takeaways of our Innovation Gym Asset Mining Webinar:

1. Make the time                         

Set aside time in each project plan to review historical work. Assign time + people to lead the effort.

2. Review all assets                        

Consider your target user, your product/service and incoming and competitor trends.

3. Create A Summary And Action Plan

The knowledge will feel more like an asset once summarised with an action plan.

Watch the Webinar Recording: https://youtu.be/fqU-M2nNpPE

OnTap Innovation Gym 

Tap into Untapped’s transformative innovation thinking when you need it with our Innovation Gym Workout Sessions. These are focused high intensity workouts that flex your innovation muscles on topics such as Asset Mining. 

For our pricing plan, email ontap@untappedinnovation.com

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Written by Deirdre Walters

Hi, I’m D! I’m a founding partner of Untapped Innovation. We help scientists, engineers and R&D experts to create better products by listening for human needs, future trends and technical possibilities: fresh thinking, breakthrough products. I love nothing more than combining ingredients from different worlds – everyday human life, emerging technologies and future trends – to invent exciting new products & services. With a degree in Chemistry and a broad spectrum of experience in manufacturing, technology development, and marketing, I have a firm grasp of how to translate new ideas into action, creating big impact.