Organizing for innovation

Is This Worth It? The Importance of Numbers and Evidence in the Innovation Process

When doubt creeps in...

Two years into their project, a team started to question whether their efforts would yield the desired results. Doubts began to creep in, prompting them to ponder: Is this worth it? Such uncertainty is not uncommon when embarking on an innovation journey. However, it is crucial to assess the situation objectively and evaluate the project's viability based on concrete numbers and evidence, rather than relying solely on the team's current feelings.

Approximately two months ago, we joined forces with this team to assist them in structuring their legal tech project. While the sunk costs cannot be undone, it remains vital to determine the project's worth from a pricing perspective and the principle of investing good money after bad. Thus, our focus has been on working through the numbers to shed light on the situation. Meanwhile, the team has been making progress, buoyed by an enthusiastic client eager to adopt their solution.

This case above underscores the importance of getting the numbers straight from the beginning and working them out for your specific situation. We have witnessed other innovation project teams grappling with similar challenges, particularly in the AI space. Many vendors tout the transformative potential of AI and significant cost savings, but it is essential to conduct your own due diligence. What problem will it solve for your organization? Does the desired outcome align with your organization's goals? Do you possess the necessary data and figures to make the AI solution work? Do you have sufficient data to make an informed decision?

Is the discipline worth it?

Besides wondering if pursuing your project is worth it, you may also question whether bringing discipline to the innovation process is worth it.

Admittedly, following this disciplined approach is easier said than done. For a long time, I neglected to apply the same rigor I offered my clients to my own pursuits at Organizing4Innovation, resulting in lost opportunities and wasted efforts. However, since adopting a more structured approach and tracking various aspects of our business, such as the sales process, the number of concurrent projects, and their progress, a newfound sense of tranquility has emerged. Knowing what needs to be done and where to focus has made a significant difference and has enabled us to grow as a business.

A few takeaways

A few valuable takeaways:

  1. Think your project through before you start: Investing 5 to 10 hours upfront will save you a lot of time, resources, and frustration down the line.
  2. Work out the numbers for your specific use case: Simple back-of-the-envelope calculations can already offer valuable insights.
  3. Set goals and measure progress weekly: Establish clear objectives and track your progress diligently. Regularly assess accomplishments (and celebrate those) and identify areas that need improvement, making changes and monitoring their impact.
  4. Change direction based on evidence, not gut feelings: When faced with the need to pivot or alter the project's course, rely on concrete evidence and data. Avoid hasty decisions driven solely by intuition, personal biases, or fleeting trends.
  5. Know when to stop: If the numbers and evidence indicate that the project is no longer worth pursuing, have the courage to halt further investment. It is better to cut losses and redirect resources toward more promising endeavors.

Is this worth it?

In conclusion, determining the worth of a project requires a disciplined approach that relies on numbers, evidence, and a clear understanding of the goals. By carefully evaluating all aspects, setting measurable objectives, and being responsive to evidence, we can make informed decisions about the viability of a project. That way, when you question your own sanity, you have the data to answer your own question: Is this worth it?





P.S. If you wonder how to bring more discipline to your innovation project or process - check out our programs



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