Below is a list of a few challenges innovation managers frequently mention when coming to us. For their innovation and tech efforts, they wonder how to:
- Prioritize projects among the many opportunities
- Secure resources for these proactive/internal projects
- Get buy-in for the implementation
All of these challenges are symptoms of the same problem. Lack of rigor in the innovation process.
Without a rigorous process, the yield from your portfolio of innovation projects will be limited. And as long as innovation and tech initiatives don't deliver higher returns than working for clients, these challenges won't go away. Time is money. And time is limited. Why invest time and resources in these riskier initiatives, when delivering the current services to clients is less risky and has a higher yield?
However, stopping the innovation efforts altogether is not an option either. The reputation as a leader in the market is important. Clients want to work with a firm that understands their issues and is proactive when it comes to creating new solutions and implementing technologies that result in better services, solutions, and offerings. They don’t always want to foot the bill for these improvements upfront.
And by the way, talent looks for the same attributes in a firm when deciding to accept a job offer or stay.
Worthwhile investments and a simple process
The solution is making it worthwhile to invest time and resources into innovation and tech projects, and making it simple for innovators to bring their ideas to practice.
Only invest in projects that are based on facts and that can demonstrate that the investment is worth it. Putting more rigor into your innovation process will be required to make that happen.
Since that is easier said than done, you need a simple and effective innovation process.
Check if you are doing the following for all significant investments:
- Are all your business cases tailored to the specifics of your firm, or do you follow other firms and vendor examples to justify investments?
- Do all projects come with client statements that clearly express the significance and costs of the problem the project plans to solve for them?
- Do you ask and enable teams to run small experiments - to prove the riskiest assumptions that underlie their big plans?
Simply said, if you want to make sure that each innovation project is worth the investment, you need to demand that each investment comes with a rock-solid business case that is tailored to your specific situation and that is based on facts instead of opinions, and make it simple for innovators to do so. Creating such business cases ask for an investment of time and resources - small compared to the overall time and resources commitment of executing an innovation or tech project - but nevertheless, it takes effort.
Research and experience have shown that it pays off to invest part of your scarce innovation resources into creating better business cases and invest time in the so-called fuzzy-front end of the innovation process. That is, making sure there is a there, there, before making any major investments or commitments.
Fortunately, bringing more rigor to your innovation process and making it simpler for innovators go hand in hand. We cannot express these better than our client Scott Howell, Technology & Information Services Director at McInnes Cooper.
Among others, bringing rigor early into the innovation process will result in a T-shaped innovation funnel. A funnel where many ideas are given a chance, but only the best ideas and most determined teams that put the effort into proving their case will get funding for the execution. This funding is not a budget to spend, but a staged investment that comes with expectations about the team’s deliverables and milestones. With fewer and more promising projects to focus on, your support functions can give these projects the resources needed to turn each into a success. And with clarity on the benefits for the firm and buy-in from stakeholders baked into the process, questions about the implementation will be about when, not if.
Do the innovation projects you undertake well or don’t do them. And let that guide your innovation process from the start to the finish.
Use the T4 platform to set all your innovation teams up for success by bringing rigor and simplicity to your innovation investments and process.