Apples to Apples

Innovation Pioneers, It’s difficult to make decisions between two business options that are grossly different.  Option A involves people, systems and infrastructure.  Option B involves customers, sales and local buy in.

One takes people resources.  The other takes dollars and cents.

One has lots of upside, but is impossible.  The other is an obvious next step, low returns, but doing it  is cake.

In innovation this is even more abstract and different by nature.  Rarely do the ideas walk, talk and act the same.  However we’re expected to make a decision among them for leading the organization forward.

But what if...

What if every new innovative idea did have the same DNA.  What if all innovative ideas had to have...

A CLEARLY DEFINED CUSTOMER - whether internal or external.  This is the person that, at the end of the day, this “innovation” was built for.

Externally that is more obvious - it’s our customer.  But what if...your organization was even more specific.  For example, say our main customer is “Moms.”  But rather than saying just “Moms” every time we create an innovation we’re more specific.  This one’s for tired Moms.  This one’s for Young Moms.  This one’s for Single Moms.  Already you can imagine how different the offerings, the messaging, the execution might be.

A CLEARLY DEFINED PROBLEM - Research shows that 98% of the time, new innovations solve problems.  Only 2% of the time are there valued innovations that are created that don’t solve an identifiable problem.

A CLEARLY DEFINED PROMISE - What is it that we’re offering to our defined customer?  How are we solving the problem(s) they have?

A CLEARLY DEFINED PROOF - How, exactly, are we going to solve their problem?  What are we going to do that’s tangibly different? CLEARLY DEFINED MATH - So we can do a basic comparison between ideas to see how they stack up - in terms of return and in terms of cost.

CLEARLY DEFINED DEATH THREATS - So we can understand what “big rocks” there are for this idea and what we’re going to learn about how we might overcome them.

Now I know you may be reading this and thinking, “This is ridiculous.  Of course all projects should have these things about them.”

To which I agree completely.  So I now ask you, “How many current projects do you have underway that have a clearly defined:  customer, problem, promise, proof, math and death threats?”  For most companies, this exercise can be quite sobering.  When you look at the items you currently have in development, you might say - “Actually, I’m not sure we really are solving a meaningful problem.”  Or you might say, “Actually, I’m not sure we’re doing that in a way that’s any different than the competition would do.  It’s pretty obvious.”

If you go through this exercise shocked at the number of projects you have that are fully staffed, funded and underway - that don’t even have a clear customer or problem - you’re not alone. Many large corporations have projects that sneak through even the most complicated and extensive project management systems and still haven’t defined why they matter.

But it’s not too late. Do it now.  Define the DNA and make every project an apples to apples comparison.  And if you can’t define the Customer, Problem, Promise and Proof for an existing project then - STOP IT.  Regroup and understand WHY you’re doing the project in the first place and if it indeed matters to the customer.


New News from the Team

Speaking of apples to apples, the development team has made it even easier for you to keep things aligned.  For corporations doing Innovation Engineering you have the ability to customize the reference tables for your innovation projects.  Every time an innovation team starts a new project, they can use your established references to help them make estimates - making it even easier for you to compare the math from innovation project to project.