Conventional wisdom says that innovation goes hand in hand with creativity and perhaps with serendipity. Hence, many believe “systematic” and “innovation” don’t go together. Can we really innovate systematically? To answer this question, I started studying the method of innovation starting from 19th century. In the process I discovered Thomas Edison, the father of systematic innovation. In 1876, Edison founded world’s first “Invention Factory” in
What hasn’t changed? There are two things which are common to Edison and Lafley’s approach.
1. Idea funnel management: Managing idea funnel involves systematically seeking ideas that create new businesses, products, processes, customer experiences and/or improve existing ones.
2. Rapid experimentation: For both Edison and Lafley, the process of clarifying assumptions why an idea will succeed is at the heart. “Validating an assumption” is also known as experimentation. Outcome of an experiment is learning telling us “what works in what context” and “what doesn’t work in what context”. Both Edison and Lafley paid a lot of attention as to how to organize for rapid experimentation.
What has changed? 130 years is a long period and it would be a big surprise if we find nothing has changed. Indeed, the method of systematic innovation has evolved. Let’s is how:
1. Putting customer at the center: For
2. Opening the idea funnel: For
3. Scope of innovation: For
For more info see the paper on the same topic. In the next article I will write about the questions participants asked me when I presented this topic in a dozen organizations.