Innovation is not a department, job or finish line. It’s a discipline. A way of behaving.
With Innovation Discipline, billion-dollar companies can create new billion dollar companies faster than any disruptor can.
Innovation discipline is a different set of rules that allows your company assets to be considered as tools for innovation, independent of the day-to-day constraints under which those assets are currently asked to perform and help your company meet its goals. For example, if your day-to-day goal under corporate performance discipline is to keep a wheel greased and rotating as fast as possible, removing that goal and applying the rules of Innovation Discipline allows you to focus instead on questions like, “What else could we do with this wheel besides make it go faster? Let’s take it off the axle and explore that.”
The ingredients necessary to innovate are your own — the people, processes and assets you already have. Innovation Discipline is all that’s missing. When you remove corporate performance discipline, bigger questions can be explored free of constraints, ideally leading to more new solutions, faster. Ideas can be born and tested in days, not months or quarters, meaning the risk of Innovation is lowered.
How Innovation Discipline Lowers Risk
Fewer initiatives will be started without checking back to the overall corporate strategy. Innovation discipline does require letting go of day-to-day constraints but would never ask that you look away from core business strategies. In fact, Innovation Discipline ensures strategic direction is honored as a checkback for every idea that moves forward. Without a vetting process in place, falling in love with and even pursuing ideas that can derail from corporate strategy is easy. Nothing is riskier, and nothing feels more deceptively like progress.
People resources will not be tapped for extended periods of time, internalizing initiatives that take them away from day-to-day performance. Part of innovation discipline is compression — timeline compression, manpower compression, mental energy compression. With problems framed in specific, concrete ways, and every problem-solver in the room focused on the right area, ideas are captured, vetted and iterated on in a well-contained timeframe. The contributors are satisfied, the problem is satisfied, and everyone can get back to business as usual — with a little more practice having applied the discipline of innovation.
Initiatives are not over or under funded for long periods of time without customer validation. In a recent Lab project with Verizon, our rapid prototyping team helped point them toward development of a new technology their customers were truly craving, rather than an idea they’d already started building, but wherein its customers saw very little value. Verizon saved tens of thousands or more by making a decision to quickly pivot rather than pursue a dead end.
Generally speaking, a more intentional process helps to ensure the Innovation initiative is headed to high impact or quick failure. Either way, this reduces the risk of wasting time and money on initiatives that either need a pivot or need to be killed altogether.
Innovation done with extreme intention is proving to have an impact on overall company performance.
“Companies with more tightly aligned business and innovation strategies had 40 percent higher operating income growth over a three-year period, and 100 percent higher total shareholder returns, than industry peers with lower strategy alignment.”