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Your Innovation Process    [Date Added : 10/04/2017 ]
For innovation to contribute to a company or government agency, it needs to be designed as a process from start to deployment. When organizations lack a formal innovation pipeline process, project approvals tend to be based on who has the best demonstration or slides, or who lobbies the hardest. There is no burden on those who proposed a new idea or technology to talk to customers, build minimal viable products, test hypotheses or understand the barriers to deployment. And they count on well-intentioned, smart people sitting in a committee to decide which ideas are worth pursuing.

Instead, what organizations need is a self-regulating, evidence-based innovation pipeline. Instead of having a committee vet ideas, they need a process that operates with speed and urgency, and that helps innovators and other stakeholders to curate and prioritize problems, ideas, and technologies.

This prioritization process has to start before any new idea reaches engineering. This way, the innovations that do reach engineering will already have substantial evidence - about validated customer needs, processes, legal security and integration issues. Most importantly, minimal viable products and working prototypes will have been tested.

A best practice Lean Innovation process inside a company or government agency would look something like this:

1. Innovation sourcing
2. Curation
3. Prioritization
4. Solution exploration and hypothesis testing
5. Incubation
6. Integration and refactoring

By now, most organizations have concluded that they face the threat of disruption. Some have even started to realize that because technological advantage degrades every year, standing still means falling behind. Hence the interest in innovation, complete with up-to-date innovation labs. But done right, innovation requires a rigorous process. It starts by generating ideas, but the hard work is in prioritizing, categorizing, gathering data, testing and refactoring.

("What Your Innovation Process Should Look Like," by Steve Blank and Pete Newell, Harvard Business Review, September 11, 2017. Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing)
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