Monday, June 3, 2013

3 characteristics of “8-steps to innovation” approach

How is “8-steps to innovation” different from other approaches? This is a common question that we get asked. It is a valid question. After all there are so many books out there proposing their distinct approaches to innovation. Here is an attempt to present 3 characteristics of 8-steps approach.

Simple measurement: The first thing 8-steps approach emphasizes is usage of simple measurement. A measurement that can be carried out in a team of five and also in an organization of one lakh employees. Measurement emphasis has enabled us to create a simple 5-level self-assessment framework. In the past two weeks since we shared the framework, we have already received inputs from more than two dozen managers. Some of them have been more open than others in sharing where they believe their organization stands. However, none of them has said, “I don’t understand it”. Whether it is pipeline, velocity, batting average, participation, number of experiments, we have proposed ways of measuring the progress.

Culture-sensitive approach: 8 steps approach has nothing to prescribe unless some aspects of the context and culture are known. For example, you need to have clarity on what you want to improve. Is it idea pipeline, velocity or batting average? Similarly, you need to check whether the problem is primarily the Elephant problem or the Rider problem (lack of motivation or direction)? This article shows how this works. It is an iterative approach. In each iteration, you need to identify where one stands, what to improve and then design a robust intervention to improve the situation.

Bias for experimentation:  8-steps approach highlights the importance of taking big bets. However, it assumes that big bets are likely to carry risks some of which can’t be resolved early in the lifecycle.  In fact, we strongly believe that it is impossible to predict the success of big bets. Hence, it emphasizes rapid iteration ideally with low cost in validating the assumptions associated with ideas. For big bets it emphasizes building structures such as a sandbox that enable low-cost high-speed high-volume experimentation.

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