Innovation Series – Part 6: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Innovation

In the latest video in the iP2Biz video on Innovation, John Bacon talks about the common pitfalls of innovation and what measures can be taken to avoid them.

Back in December, iP2Biz started a series on Innovation and Product Development in today’s environment. For the full video series, click here.


Video Transcript

In the previous discussion we examined the contrast between the formal development process designed to execute on a plan. The Front End Innovation process is designed to create and prepare potentially viable innovations for insertion into the formal R&D process. Today, we’ll look at what actions help minimize organizational conflict and increase innovation productivity.

First, the attitude a CEO has towards his/her process, innovation, and organization as a whole, greatly impacts the level at which each process component can function.  

When senior leadership does not encourage and support a unique Front End of Innovation – one that is a Dynamic Process (which is different from the Formal Process), the Innovation Logjam builds up.  CEOs and business unit presidents need to be involved and engaged to create and foster an innovation culture and process.  It’s up to them to deliver the message that both breakthrough innovation and tight management of the formal delivery process is required and expected. In today’ corporations, no one else can do this. 

The second issue arises when companies do not realize that very few of the initial ideas need to go through to the Formal Process. Many get attached to too many “good” ideas and don’t iterate quickly on the “great” ideas, leading to lower success rates further down the road. It’s a whole lot cheaper to evaluate and reject an idea in the Front End than in the Formal process! 

Other times companies get hung up on an individual’s ideas. Often, people with great ideas may be pushing their own agenda. They may believe an idea has a potential market value when in reality the value may not be as great as once believed. 

Frustration is caused by being too negative with initial “out of the box” ideas causing them to be thrown out prematurely before more innovation potential can be realized as a result of analysis.   

It’s important to remember the “idea rejection ratio” value that happens on the front end to prevent premature development of partially vetted concepts.

A key short-term measure is the idea rejection ratio. You have probably heard the expression “Fail Faster”.  An effective system gets through a large number of ideas, and leaves many aside. Organizations that understand how to manage the Front End do not view the cast off ideas as failures. 

Along those same lines, it’s the goal to increase the number of solid innovation ideas making their way towards or through to the Formal Process with a well thought out and analyzed plan. One sign of a weak Front End is that presence of too many projects in Formal development; the absence of early triage causes projects in the Formal Process to compete for resources.

A third problem arises in the analysis phase where it is evident there is lack of objective and/or data driven input. In most cases, it is due to no outside or independent input. As research statistics show, it’s imperative to see input from different 3rd party perspectives who have no preconceived “agenda”.

Companies succeed by adherence to their own uniquely defined process.  The Front End of Innovation is “flowing”, “iterative”, and “unpredictable” and “different” than the formal process but it is an additional process that can be leveraged. 

Join us in the next video as we look at examples of teamwork to effectively navigate the Front End of Innovation.

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