Innovation is a key to success in the business world. From tiny startups to large corporations, everybody is trying to innovate. But are they doing it right?
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. — Steve Jobs
Software is still eating the world, following Marc Andreessen’s premonition in 2011. Every year we see new technologies disrupting old long established industries, and the challenge is to understand what industries will be disrupted next, and how. Nimble and Agile startups are keen to challenge the status quo, and established company can see their businesses being challenged left and right by these ingenious new solutions.
The reason why we see new startups challenge and take the spotlight from big established companies, is because they are naturally faster to adapt and to serve new market conditions. In such a fast paced world, where change is constant, established companies need to nail innovation, so they can be ahead of the curve to protect and even boost their market share.
Innovation is all about trying, learning and retrying
As an innovator, either in a small startup or as a part of a larger organization, you always start with a brilliant idea. Brilliant in your perspective, at least. Often, when these promising ideas are tested with real clients/users in the market, it turns out they are not as brilliant as they seemed in the first place. This is called a feedback loop, and when you drill down and find out *why* your idea didn’t work as brilliantly as you expected, you *learn* how to make it better. If after that first feedback loop you go back to the market and test it again, odds are you’re not as far off as before. If you allow yourself the time (and money) needed for several iterations and feedback cycles, you’re likely to be in a position where you bring value to the market, and your value proposition by then is a huge evolution of what was once a naive idea that seemed brilliant.
You can’t escape failure
As an innovator, you need to learn how to live with the fact that you’re going to fail during the process, probably often. It’s important to understand that failure is not something that should discourage you, but rather something that makes you stronger and puts you closer from hitting success. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. You certainly want to hit success much earlier than the 10,000th iteration, but you still need to embrace the fact that each time you fail you learn, and learning is the key ignition to create market value.
Build a small version of your product, so that you collect feedback earlier
As an innovator, you’re bringing to the market a new product, which you believe will serve a need better than the existing offerings. As such, to test it with real clients/users you need to build it, or at least a minimum version of it, which in startup world is called a Minimum Viable Product, and larger corporations tend to call Proof of Concept. Whatever you call it, you need to provide something to the people who will use it, so that you can collect feedback. The key hack here is to build as small (and smart) a version of the product as possible, so that you can collect quality feedback from relevant stakeholders earlier. If you apply this mindset to every new iteration after a feedback loop, you can accomplish more product iterations in a given amount of time, and get to product-market-fit much earlier.
Bring in an Agile SWAT tech team to learn faster
Most often than not, larger corporations find themselves in somewhat awkward positions when they need to staff these innovation cycles. On one hand they might not have internally the skills needed to develop the new technologies that will disrupt their markets. On the other hand, their DNA is not necessarily innovation and they are not used to play the Agile playbook of fast iterations and constant incorporation of feedback. For these reasons, most innovation units are better off creating small dedicated Scrum teams to create new products. Bringing in individuals who are skilled in the needed disruptive technologies, and who are equipped to be Agile team players, allows for maximum output during short innovations cycles. This allows you to learn faster in each feedback loop.
Add meaningful innovation expertise to succeed faster
In any innovation context, all you need is to hit a market segment where you have product-market-fit, and expand from there. If you combine your Agile SWAT team, with the strategic inputs from innovation experts, you can not only build faster, but also build smarter product iterations that get you to product-market-fit much earlier. The ideal mix is to combine the market expertise you already have in your company with the expertise in innovation and technology that you may find in a strategic partner like TechHQ. This think tank will come up with the thesis for the opportunity in the market and the playbook that your company needs to follow to tap into it. What is the segment to test against, what’s the Minimum Viable Product, what type of user feedback needs to be incorporated, and other strategic questions will be asked and answered. This allows us to come up with the unique tech innovation approach that makes sense for your business, and that allows this Agile SWAT team to build the right thing, and incorporate market feedback in the right way.
This article was originally published here.