How to Break Up with an Innovation Project

Any time you commission an innovative project, failing to achieve your commercial objectives is a real possibility. The more innovative the idea, the more it by definition rests on assumptions that may or may not pan out. The tools and techniques developed over the past decade around managing those assumptions, coupled with dramatic decreases in the cost of developing and testing ideas means you can learn much more efficiently than before, but that doesn’t change the fact that a good idea in theory might not be a good idea in reality. Customers rarely do what you expect them to. A promised benefit that worked in the lab might not work at any kind of commercial scale. A beautiful economic model in Excel might turn out to be an ugly one in reality.

Not every idea is destined for greatness. When it is clear an idea isn’t going to make the cut, perpetuating it can sap your organization’s innovation capacity and energy.

Notice three key lines:
“The data doesn’t lie.”
“Think of the other things we both could be doing instead.”
“We had some great times, and I don’t regret them at all.”