Innovation is becoming an important differentiator for firms. The pandemic has been an accelerant, propelling all firms forward in the area of legal tech and innovation. What was once inconceivable or impossible, developments such as remote working, virtual court sessions, and online networking are imperatives that have become part of our regular lives. The ability to make these changes has given firms the urgency and confidence to embrace innovation.
Most firms engaged in innovation activities before the pandemic. What has changed is the frequency and volume at which innovation efforts are taking place. The increase in innovation activity raises the stakes. For every $1000 invested in innovation, most firms need to generate more than $3500 in new revenues to cover the associated costs. While substantial investments can yield larger returns, there is no guarantee that each investment will have a comparable or even adequate return.
Innovation management is the process to ensure that the firm’s portfolio of innovation investments and activities delivers the best possible outcomes on multiple levels.
Gartner defines innovation management as a business discipline that aims to drive a repeatable, sustainable innovation process or culture within an organization. It is the structured process of generating, validating, prioritizing, developing, and implementing ideas and alternative solutions that would, otherwise, not have emerged through normal processes.
Because introducing something new follows a sequence of events, innovation classifies as a value chain, wherein the least productive step determines the overall performance of the process. Innovation management helps to optimize the innovation process, identify bottlenecks, and increase the productivity of innovation investments and resources.
A structured process
It can be tempting to look at Google, Apple, Amazon, and other innovative companies to copy their best practices. However, very few firms can afford to innovate on that scale. For example, Amazon spent $22.6 Billion on R&D in 2017. For organizations with just a fraction of that budget, innovation in the workplace is the best option.
However, engaging employees in the innovation process requires more than putting up an idea box, giving them a one-pager to fill out, or giving them time to innovate. To make innovation fun and rewarding, you must provide your innovators with the best possible support, so they can deliver the best possible results.
And for the innovation managers, who oversee these innovators in the workplace, their role is more that of a facilitator than a manager, especially when the funding for the innovation projects comes from the business units or practice groups and the team members don't report to them for their short or long term performance.
To address the needs of innovators in the workplace and innovation managers or others who oversee these projects, we came up with a solution.
T4 offers an online training program and innovation management platform so firms can manage their innovators and get better results faster.
We know from Dr. Blindenbach her 20+ years of research and practical experience that service providers need to drive their own innovation projects, yet, typically lack the time, skills, and experience to do so effectively. With the guidance and focus from our on-the-job training, we enable these innovators to bring their ideas to practice in about half the time.
Departments are typically willing to pay for the costs of the T4 training for their innovation teams because they benefit most from the improved innovation results. Our training can save departments hundreds of hours of valuable time of their service providers by achieving innovation results about twice as fast and by identifying unpromising initiatives within weeks instead of months.
For innovation managers, our platform provides the data they need to direct scarce support-resources to the most promising teams and turn innovation from a cost into a profit center.
What our users say:
"Great experience! I gained a lot of knowledge regarding business.
I am in healthcare so I am not used to the business side of things as I typically do not handle those aspects of my practice. This program was superb for teaching me the other side of my career. I was taught how to accurately assess items such as finances, billing, interviewing, and how to think from a business perspective. It definitely made me think outside of the box which was worth it as it taught me so much! I would highly recommend this program!"
Sherry L - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Children's Hospital New Orleans
“T4 helped me to develop and value a business idea before I put it to market. After our research, we concluded that the idea would not be a commercial success for our business. Without T4, we either would have put this to market (which would have wasted our time, energy and money) or we would have stayed in the 'what if' mode for a few years. With T4, in just a few weeks, we concluded to focus our energy on other more valuable innovation projects.”
Esther van de Storm – Innovation Booster, Stormpunt
How does it compare to other approaches?
What about Agile, Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas and other methodologies?
These are great methodologies that address different aspects of the innovation process – see graph below.
The T4 training program helps innovators in the workplace to apply the most valuable tools and concepts of each approach so that they know what to use when, without having to become an expert in each of these tools.
Why a project description
Is it not better to focus on a product instead of a project description?
We acknowledge that in the Agile community there has been a push to get away from project descriptions towards product descriptions.
However, a product description does not fit the bill to what the T4 program does either. The 4 in the T4 program stands for the (1) Market, (2) Solution, (3) Organization, and (4) Project risks we ask teams to address. Those are the areas we ask teams to address as part of this project description.
So, in fact, it is an MSOP description. We have stuck with a project description because we like to keep things clear.
Is it cost-effective to have your employees engaged in these innovation projects? Is it not more efficient to have an innovation staffer do this work?
The T4 approach is cost-effective because it:
- Results in a more selective innovation process, with more ideas going in, investments in better projects, and overall better outcomes.
- Builds organizational buy-in and commitment for each project as part of the process.
- Combines personal and new product development, so the idea-owner and the organization will be an experience richer regardless of the outcome of the project.
- Incorporates training and innovation management saving the team and organization administrative tasks.
- Puts all information in one place, so the trainer can pro-actively intervene when needed and teams don't waste time going off on a tangent.
- Generates benchmark data that shows how teams perform compared to others, which helps all teams to perform better.
- Saves team members 1-2 hours per week over the course of their innovation project because the T4 training keeps them on task.
The right person?
Is the idea-owner the most suitable person to do this work?
We don't expect idea-owners to drive their entire project from idea to implementation. That would be unreasonable and ineffective. We ask them to be in the driver seat at a minimum to develop a convincing project description and compelling business case. Because who else would be better equipped to explain what a great opportunity it is?
As part of the process, we encourage idea-owners to build a team. First, because innovation is a team sport. Second, because we know that many different skill-sets are needed to bring an idea to practice.
Thus, we require idea-owners to put their project on the rails and help the team to prepare for others to take over if that is in the best interest of the project.