A new series on Innovation Mastery – we begin by setting goals for your innovation program.
GOAL: Developing New Products and Services
If your outcome is to develop new products, the metrics are easy on this one, simply track the number of ideas which make it through the pipeline from idea to actual product. If this is really your goal, then you need to invest the time, money and resources to make sure that these ideas get through the pipeline to actual product, or at least a prototype that you can throw into the marketplace (even a small, limited marketplace) and see what happens. Don’t spend all of your budget on the program itself, save some of it for the product development, marketing and management of the trial.
Another thing that is important do here is to be very cognizant of the operational voices, who will try to come in at this point and shut down prototypes, products and trials which will have no immediate perceived value proposition. If the founders of Twitter or Snapchat had done that, there would be no Twitter ($17B valuation) or Snapchat ($16B valuation). Make sure that you can spend the money to get the damn thing out the door, and let it ride for a while.
The founders of WhatsApp were thinking of shutting it down a few months before it went totally viral. Remember it was bought by Facebook for $22B. Would you let your operational voices (some people call these the corporate innovation immune system) shut down what could be a $22B product, all for the sake of a few bucks? We are shooting for the moon here – we should be allowed to spend a few bucks to get there.
In my experience, many enterprises let their operational voices shut down their innovative voices, expecting something for nothing, that unless the product is an immediate viral success with tons of traction and revenue, we should shut it down right away. I’ve seen too many awesome products go that way, only to be launched by a startup a few months later to huge traction and potential revenues. Don’t be that innovation program: be ready for the operational voices to throw up a very strong case to shut you down early, sounding the hue and cry that “you don’t make any money”. Don’t let them stop you before you’ve even started.