Origen: How companies strangle innovation — and how you can get it right
Internal and External Survey
— Other places the problem might exist in a slightly different form
- Internal projects already in existence
- Commercially available solutions
— Legal issues
— Security issues
— Support issues
Use Cases/Concept of Operations
- Who are the customers? Stakeholders? Other players?
- How did they interact? Pains/Gains/Jobs to be done?
- How does the proposed solution work from the viewpoint of the users?
- What would the initial minimal viable products (MVPs) — incremental and iterative solutions — look like?
One of the quickest ways to sort innovation ideas is to use the McKinsey Three Horizons Model. Horizon 1 ideas provide continuous innovation to a company’s existing business model and core capabilities.
Horizon 2 ideas extend a company’s existing business model and core capabilities to new customers, markets or targets. Horizon 3 is the creation of new capabilities to take advantage of or respond to disruptive opportunities or disruption.
Solution Exploration/Hypotheses Testing
The ideas that pass through the prioritization filter enter an I-Corps incubation process. I-Corps was adopted by all U.S. government federal research agencies to turn ideas into products.
…This six- to ten-week process delivers evidence for defensible, data-based decisions. It tests the initial idea against all the hypotheses in a business model (or for the government, the mission model) canvas.
This not only includes the obvious — is there product/market (solution/mission) fit? — but the other “gotchas” that innovators always seem to forget. The framework has the team talking not just to potential customers but also with regulators, and people responsible for legal, policy, finance, support.
…Or does it create a new capability that could be spun into its own organization? Or does the team think it should be killed?
Once hypothesis testing is complete, many projects will still need a period of incubation … Incubation requires dedicated leadership oversight from the horizon 1 organization to insure the fledgling project does not die of malnutrition (a lack of access to resources) or become an orphan (no parent to guide them).
Technical debt describes what happens when software or hardware is built quickly to validate hypotheses and find early customers. This quick and dirty development results in software that can become unwieldy, difficult to maintain and incapable of scaling.
Organizational debt is all the people/culture compromises made to “just get it done” in the early stages of an innovation project.
You clean up technical debt through refactoring, by going into the existing code and restructuring it to make the code stable and understandable.
You fix organizational debt by refactoring the team, realizing that most of the team who built and validated a prototype may not be the right team to take it to scale but is more valuable starting the next innovation initiative.
Some products and services going through the pipeline create new capabilities or open new markets.
These Horizon 3 disruptive innovations need to separate from the existing development organizations and be allowed to grow and develop in physically separate spaces. They need the support and oversight of the CEO.