Great innovation is ambiguous and uncertain: it can go in many directions and nobody is really sure how it will work out. Examples like 3M’s post-it, have entered the innovation canon: what do you do with a weak glue? Make a bookmark. Then achieve a business success beyond any reasonable expectation.
To create a great innovation, companies need to take the step of formulating their projects. What direction are they actually going to take the project? How will they keep it on track? What do you do when the inevitable surprise comes along and people want to redirect the project? When should you kill the project?
I was recently involved in a panel of experienced experts to discuss these issues. Participants included experts from a variety of industries, with companies like Sanofi Pasteur, Dell, Bayer and Church & Dwight, and participants ranging from Director to Vice President to Chief Innovation Officer.
The conversation was written up by Frost & Sullivan, the panel producers, in a nice little article. It covers how innovation projects can get off track and what you can do to keep innovation moving towards success.