Innovation Execution – Translating Ideas Into Real Products

As I've said a thousand time, ideas without execution are a hobby and true innovators are not in the hobby business. True competitive advantage comes from those that can take an idea and turn it into a real innovation that has impact. Innovation execution is a core ability that organization must build and support if they are to win the creative economy.

innovation execution

Key components of an innovation execution approach

  • Gated funding model
  • Gated milestone management

Gated Funding Model

  • Limit funding until key deliverables are met
  • Recognize that not all ideas will result in products.  Manage the budget to ensure there are ample funds to see the best ideas through the innovation pipeline

Gated Milestone Management

  • Setup gates that answer key questions/challenges in translating the idea to a product/service
  • I use four gates .. you should setup gates that make sense to your team/project/organization
      • Market Valuation (e.g. how many customers have the problem being solved?)
      • Customer Validation (e.g. Do customers agree that the solution address the problem?  Will they pay for the solution?  Does the business case justify the investment?)
      • Limited Trial/Test Market (e.g. Will the customer actually purchase the solution?  Does the business case/value chain hold up?)
      • Launch!
  • How are gates milestone charts created? (Sample)
      • Define the groups/teams (e.g. engineering, marketing, sales, etc) needed to translate the idea into a product/service
      • Setup “swim lanes” for each group/team vertically along the left side
      • For each swim lane, setup the timeline of the deliverable
      • Define the gates vertically across the timeline
      • A gate is defined as:  “all deliverables to the left of the gate must be completed to satisfy the exit criteria”
RELATED:   Is it better to use internal innovation resources?

How do you setup the Killer Innovation Execution approach?

  • Define the gates you will use to manage your innovation programs
  • Define the key questions that need to be answered? (e.g. Is the market big enough?).  These will be the gates.
  • Define the exit criteria for each gate.
      • Make the criteria as objective as possible (e.g. Must have a total addressable market of $x with a sustainable margin of y%, etc.)
  • Define the deliverables the would be needed to answer each question and satisfy the exit criteria for each gate
  • Break-down the deliverables by the groups/teams
  • Setup the gate milestone chart (see above)
  • Break-down the funding by gates.  Project out the full project funding need and then revise the outer gates as you gather more information.

Managing the innovation execution …

  • Make each gate a “hard” gate with a “time box” (date when the gate will be completed)
  • Have the teams perform “gate reviews” at each gate.
      • Review the gate and its deliverables
      • Status against the exit criteria
      • Walk through findings and insights learned during the gate
      • Status against funding
      • Define deliverables and exit criteria for next gate
      • Update funding for next gate and total funding requirement
      • Ask for “go” or “no go” approval to move forward
RELATED:   Perseverance and Pivots S11 Ep17

Sample Gate Milestone Chart – PDF Version (License: CC – Non-commercial, Attribution)

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