Rapid Innovation

Introduction

Whilst invention is concerned with the creation of good ideas, innovation involves both the creation of ideas and the transformation of these into economically viable, market focused products and services. Rapid Innovation is the art of delivering new products and services in less time, at less cost and with fewer ‘post implementation’ problems.

Rapid Innovation combines three key concepts;

· Getting to grips with what is going on in the marketplace, what customers really want (and not just what you think they need) and understanding the competition.

· The adoption of ‘Concurrent Design’ concepts to eliminate barriers between teams and avoid sequential development.

And

· The use Rapid Prototyping tools that can quickly create prototypes of products, or simulate new services to help iron out problems and issues.

Innovation is about doing things differently and is therefore fundamentally different to improvement which is concerned with doing the same things ‘better’. rapid cash This paper explores how organisations can successfully and rapidly introduce viable new products and services.

Top Five Innovation Anchors

The ability of an organisation to successfully innovate can have many benefits. These include cost efficiencies, market leadership, brand development and many more. However, there are anchors that slow down the ability of an organisation to innovate effectively. These anchors can result in lost market share, excessive development costs, unexpected operational problems or damage to the organisation’s brand. The five most important innovation anchors are described below.

Innovation Anchor 1: Failing to understand the market

It is quite easy to generate one hundred ideas before breakfast but……

· Only one in one hundred ideas will result in a product or service that is viable.

· Only one in one hundred of the viable products and services developed will be market leaders.

A process is therefore needed to sort out those ideas that are viable from those that aren’t. Viable products and services are those that meet the stated or unstated needs of customers and therefore are capable of generating an economic return. The sorting process creates an ideas funnel where only viable ideas emerge.

The key to successfully identifying viable ideas is to understand the market place in which you operate. This means meeting with potential customers and discussing what they want and understanding what services or products you will be competing with. Unless you do this you run the risk of wasting a lot of time and a large amount of money.

Innovation Anchor 2: Failing to work collaboratively

One of the biggest problems that occur in the development process is that activities occur sequentially rather than concurrently. This creates a virtual waterfall where activities are ‘thrown over the wall’ from one team to the next in a cascade of activity. The fact that ‘downstream’ considerations are not being considered at each stage results in lots of rework. Teams have to return activities to an earlier stage to correct errors, delaying progress and significantly increasing cost.

Collaborative development, involving multi-disciplinary teams, is a key to the concept of Concurrent Design. Teams involving expertise from across the development pathway considering all aspects of the lifecycle of the product or service being worked on can more than halve the lead-time from concept to implementation and reduce operating problems by 80% or more.

Innovation Anchor 3: Failing to empower teams

Having established a development team there is a need to empower the teams to make decisions. Complex and poorly defined decision making processes contribute directly to increased lead-times. Empowering teams means defining how the boundaries they can work within and then allowing them to get on with it.

Innovation Anchor 4: Failing to provide effective sponsorship

Development teams will encounter a range of problems and issues. The budget allocated to the team will be under threat and in complex organisations the team will have to ‘shout’ for attention and management time. The purpose of sponsorship is to keep the profile of development teams high up the management agenda and to minimise the management burden placed on the teams themselves so that they remain focused on getting to market rather than completing reports.

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