Senior Business Development Director
In this preview piece from the upcoming Growth Innovation, and Leadership Chronicles eBook, April shares key insights and ideas to help you kick start or improve the innovation process at your organization.
April reinvented the innovation process, from the front end of innovation, to market and product development, through to strategic portfolio management at GOJO Industries, best known for their market-making PURELL Brand. In her current role as Senior Director of Business Development of IoT Solutions, she is responsible for creating new IoT business models in healthcare, commercial building and other core vertical GOJO markets. She develops and cultivates new partnerships in emerging ecosystems to support strategy execution.
- Business model learnings
- Design thinking to minimize risk
- Holistic processes to improve outcomes
- Mistakes to avoid
The goal is to have faster, more effective and overall better outcomes in innovation. The issue is that this it’s not that simple or easy to do. Today’s organizations face many different obstacles to successful innovation, ranging from organizational alignment issues to data issues and other factors that can lessen the likelihood of good outcomes.
Additionally, each organization is unique and has different needs and ways of approaching product innovation. Ultimately, we can only learn about the current best practices and implement them in our own organizations in a manner that works and fits our particular needs.
There are many different toolkits to choose from; it’s best to learn about each of them and then choose:
- These include the lean startup method, and the business model canvas
- Creating a minimum viable product is another approach
- Conducting validated learning is important
Quick iterative cycles allow for integrating innovation with strategies. It might be easy to gloss over the “why” and innovate for the sake of activity, but understanding the why behind each initiative and aligning it with the customer creates value for all throughout the process. Make sure to account for the customer in each step of the innovation process and product creation cycle.
Ask what you can do each week to finalize and meet goals while testing out the overall hypotheses.
- Test hypotheses quickly and move from an assumption to a proof point
- Remember to assess death threats to the product. Crucial questions include:
Who is the paying customer? How much will they pay? Is this verifiable?
- Death threats will vary and will consist of internal threats as well as external threats
- Teams can make the decision to kill the product if they deem it to be too risky to carry out to fruition
- A few organizations engage in modeling the potential business in excel and conduct a pre-emptive postmortem
- Others go through different stages with their product, including prototyping, minimum viable product and minimum viable selling product (MVSP). The MVSP is essential to some organizations because it lets them understand if users are interested enough to feasibly roll out the product
- Yet others engage in project portfolio process management. With this method, leaders establish buy-in and look at projects holistically. They work to foster a sense of comprehension and coordination with all the relevant parties in the organization before proceeding. They might also remove current projects that don’t fit in with the goals of the long-term vision
- The portfolio management process examines all projects and deploys company resources to the projects that make the most sense from a bottom line standpoint. Companies that use this process will account for overall resource capacity for projects and factor this in when making their decisions. These firms will prioritize the best projects and then work on the projects that deliver the most value over the long-term
- Iterate fast
- Move rapidly
- Execute with precision and accuracy
- Turn to current methods and tailor to your organization’s needs
- Focus on total alignment from the start with your technology, research, and marketing departments
- To minimize risk and be more effective, invest in ecosystem development. This might include technology, manufacturing and other partnerships
- When partnering with others, make sure to bring in legal from the very first meeting onward
- Conduct reviews after actions to understand how to refine and improve processes
- Recommended reading includes The Innovator’s Dilemma and other works by Clayton Christensen
- Remember that mistakes will happen, but minimizing risk and implementing a culture of learning will help to improve overall outcomes