How to Get More Innovation in Your Product Portfolio

The traditional models of innovation, based on planning and making reasonable assumptions, don’t work. Making innovation work requires a process based on the reality of the situation. The attached deck, which I presented at the conference, describes the “bird process” of innovation. This process has four easy steps:

  • Ideate: Finding the bird that will build the nest — finding the committed innovator with actionable insight.
  • Formulate: Selecting the golden egg you want to hatch — creating an aligned learning plan.
  • Incubate: Hatching the egg to get a fledgling — delivering on proof points (possibly breaking some eggs along the way).
  • Accelerate: Getting the fledgling to soar — reaching a scalable business.

In a webinar with the PDMA, entitled Managing Innovation from Ideation to a Scalable Business, I further describe my bird model of innovation.

[vimeo width=”525″ height=”300″][/vimeo]

Innovation starts with the parent bird who is totally committed to building the nest. Finding this committed innovator with actionable insight is the work of the ideation phase. Ideas are not the inputs to the process; they are the byproduct of the committed innovator.

Most companies take their idea and just run down the most obvious path. But the best ideas can go in multiple directions and are plagued by uncertainty. Of all the possible eggs you might focus on, which one is your golden egg? Make uncertainty and ambiguity your allies by taking the time to formulate your innovation, developing an aligned learning plan. Formulation is continual, as most innovations need to be reformulated as you learn.

Once you’ve got your golden egg, you’ve got to incubate it to prove it out. Don’t focus on the work to be done, rather, focus on demonstrating the proof points: what do you want to know before mortgaging your house to invest in the idea? Along the way, expect to break some eggs, and reformulate a few times, as you expand your idea and finally close it down on an proven opportunity, your fledgling!

Resist the temptation to kick your fledgling out of the nest immediately, by for example, submitting it to the crushing pressure of the quarterly P&L statement. Like an adolescent, fledglings benefit from some adult discipline but have many awkward issues to work out before they are ready to fly. Transitioning from proof-based metrics to business-based metrics is the work of the acceleration phase, and the result is a scalable business.

Your innovation can then soar!

To make great decisions about the future you need to identify the key areas where what you don’t know may impact you. By uncovering your areas of greatest risk and by analyzing them, you ensure better decisions. It doesn’t stop there, as you develop your product you must keep going back to your areas of risk and revalidate that they are decreasing and confirm that your decision still makes sense.

Learn how SmartOrg makes it easy for companies to evaluate their best product opportunities and drive maximum growth.