The CIS process builds on the chaos theory. An unmanageable situation or task is divided into small, manageable sequences. Each sequence is treated separately and feeds into other sequences. Together, they form a successful systematic process for creative idea development.
The very essence of CIS is that innovation should be more than a quick fix event happening from time to time. It must be integrated as a continuous activity in every organization – in the same way as one has HR, marketing, production and sales. CIS idea development is therefore not a single step, but a comprehensive process concerning all the phases in CIS.
The CIS process consists of four different phases: Lateral Focus, PRE-ject, Innovation PRO-ject and POST-ject. The CIS process is continuous and therefore the Lateral Focus phase and POST-ject are similar, as POST-jects become a new Lateral Focus phase. Each phase consists of built-in sequences, which feeds into each other. The main team, formed at an early stage, is the key element throughout the process because they assume innovation leadership:
- The lateral focus
The goal of the Lateral Focus is to define and align the main team’s perception of the given task. First, an open forum for existing knowledge about the task is created to explore potential assumptions and challenges, plausible barriers and paralysis areas. Here the team members collect new insight using different sources such as experts’ studies, customer behavior, user experiences and independent research in a systematic approach. This new knowledge is investigated and a negotiation of meaning takes place, which again generates multiple possibilities for new ideas. These ideas are explored based on the original focus. Finally, the essential innovation task for the following process is defined. Now the team is ready to look for new ideas to fulfill this task.
- The PRE-ject
The PRE-ject phase fine-tunes and conceptualizes the essential task defined in the Lateral Focus. This is done by creating several new inputs. Each input is qualified through an in-depth focused horizontal innovation activity with different specific experts, scientists and lead-users, which once more creates new specified ideas and new possibilities. Thereafter, each idea from the horizontal activity is processed vertically and made more tangible in its form. The most promising ideas are transformed into concepts, which are then turned into pretotypes ready to be developed.
- The PRO-ject
At this point in the CIS process, the original task has turned into tangible concepts ready to be verified within the organization. This includes verification of whether the concept actually functions, full diagnosing, followed by further development. Finally, the PRO-ject may be completed with an actual prototype. Depending on the radicalism of the concept, the prototype can take the form of a science project, research project or physical prototype ready for implementation. Sometimes the PRO-ject phase is done by the organization itself, or the main team may keep its central position in further development of the best realization of the task. On the other hand, the project could also be outsourced.
- The POST-ject
Parallel with the implementation phase of the surviving concepts in the PRO-ject, a POST-ject is created. This phase, while similar to the original Lateral Focus, is completely new, thus making the CIS framework a continuous process.