Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

News Feed Item

Obsession With the Mythical "Perfect Idea" Is the Downfall of Most Innovation Efforts

Innovators Must Give Up the Mindset of Day-to-Day Operations -- and Immerse Themselves in Failure, Uncertainty, and Experimentation, According to New Book From Innosight

LEXINGTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/06/14 -- When trying to get their ideas off the drawing board and into the market, most innovators spend too much time, energy and money using the wrong toolkit to solve the wrong problem. They try to come up with a "perfect idea" that will disrupt the market or change the world. And they apply the wrong management skills: operating and control systems that are optimal for day-to-day execution but often detrimental to the innovation process.

In reality, "perfect" ideas do not exist. Every new idea is partly right and partly wrong. In the "first mile" of development -- i.e., going from the drawing board into the market -- successful innovators use trial-and-error experimentation to refine their ideas and business model. Learning and applying such skills is the only sure path to gaining commercial traction and turning a great new idea into a viable business, according to Scott D. Anthony, Managing Partner and head of the Asia-Pacific operation of strategy and innovation consulting firm Innosight and author of the just-released The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas Into the Market (Harvard Business Review Press, May 2014).

The First Mile gives innovators simple tools to help them avoid some of the most common pitfalls of early-stage innovation. Anthony created these tools based on his work with both venture-backed start-ups as well as some of the world's largest companies -- learning from the successes and failures of innovators in businesses of all shapes and sizes, and in a wide range of markets.

"How innovators navigate the first mile will determine whether the idea flies or fails, potentially taking the entire company up or down with it," says Anthony. "Most businesses operate on a principle of maximizing certainty and minimizing mistakes, but the innovation process is rife with uncertainty, mistakes and failure. In reality, mistakes and failure are a necessary part of the process and invaluable in pointing the way toward success -- if you are properly prepared and know how to handle them."

Without The Right Skills, Innovators Are Vulnerable to Four Key Mistakes

When innovators start with the wrong objective, or misunderstand innovation's key imperatives, they are in danger of making four common and often disastrous mistakes:

  • Running out of fuel: Money is the lifeblood of innovation. The right kind of planning ensures innovators have sufficient funding to keep the venture running long enough to get market traction.
  • Hiring the wrong driver: Not every executive has the right skills -- it takes a unique combination of customer empathy and business savvy. A leader needs both to guide the venture successfully through innovation's first mile.
  • Making a wrong turn: Innovators are often lured into empty market spaces with visions of big opportunity (e.g., "blue ocean" and "greenfield" opportunities), but sometimes these spaces are empty for a good reason and the market potential is illusory.
  • Spinning out: Too many innovative businesses make the cardinal mistake of scaling too fast, before they nail the economics and business model. To succeed, first nail it, then scale it.

To Succeed, Address Three Burning Questions

"Successful innovation is all about proving you can answer yes to three key questions, rather than assuming they are all true," says Anthony. "Does anybody need it? Can we do it? Do the numbers work? If you can't answer yes to all those questions, and prove it, then the odds that you have a commercially viable idea are quite low. But if you can, you may be on a path to something big."

Three key development hurdles every idea must cross in the first mile:

1. Is there a need? - Prove a deep customer need. Establish that the customer exists; identify the job he or she is struggling to get done; prove the job is important and unsatisfied.
2. Can you do it? - Prove the concept. Confirm that the solution solves the problem repeatedly and reliably; demonstrate that it's superior to other options; define what it looks and feels like.
3. Is it worth it? - Prove the economics. Identify the sources of revenue, as well as the costs, resources and operations required to earn that revenue; identify a viable path to commercialization.

Leading an Innovation Effort Requires Specialized Skills and Systems

Anthony argues that most organizations are short on the right innovation skills, including: a willingness to experiment for its own sake; an ability to welcome and learn from the unexpected; and comfort with rapid course corrections. Most of today's top executives and managers don't have these skills because they did not grow up with the pace of change they face today.

He outlines four leadership mandates that are essential to navigating innovation's first mile:

  • Piercing through the "fog of innovation" - Bias action over analysis to avoid "analysis paralysis"; focus more on learning than quantitative targets; use small diverse teams; and task decision makers with experimentation (i.e., don't let them just be "arm-chair innovators").
  • Encouraging smart risk taking and not overly penalizing failure - Evaluate people more on successful behaviors than "objective" outputs; use asymmetric reward systems (i.e., large rewards for success and small penalties for failure).
  • Knowing how and when to disengage, and ending the plague of "zombie projects" - Stop escalating commitments when you clearly hit a dead end; "shut it down, extract the lessons and celebrate the learning."
  • Fostering connections to external experts, customers, and employees - Build formal and informal networks; leverage the "wisdom of crowds"; increase opportunities and avenues for collaboration.

As examples of successful innovators, Anthony points to companies like:

  • W.L. Gore & Associates, maker of Goretex, puts experimentation at the heart of its culture: incentivizing teams to self-form around new opportunities, but also regularly giving out "sharp shooter" awards to those who "put down" dead-end projects.
  • Netflix built its disruptive technologies and business model through a rigorous and disciplined approach to experimentation -- not just in moving from DVD rental to streaming video, but also in original content production.
  • Adobe smartly managed the risk behind transforming its business model from prepackaged software to a software-as-a-service model by testing key assumptions in Australia before spreading the new model globally.
  • Citi launched a global collaboration hub that brings together employees from around the world -- its first global challenge in 2011 generated 2,300 hundred ideas from 45,000 employees across 13 business units in 97 countries.
  • Unilever maintains a "street" at its Indian headquarters in Hindustan where new product teams pitch ideas to employees.

The First Mile Imperative: Maximize the "Trial," Learn from the "Errors"

"All innovation ventures go through multiple course corrections before finding the exact right path," says Anthony. "In this process, one's arch nemesis is uncertainty in all its forms -- especially assumptions and rosy predictions that the innovator fails to question or verify."

Anthony urges innovators to follow a process called "DEFT" to test their assumptions and prove the commercial viability of their ideas:

  • DOCUMENT: Identify hidden assumptions using tools like questionnaires, a single-page "idea resume" or "business model canvas."
  • EVALUATE: Appraise the idea from multiple angles using role play scenarios, pattern based analysis and financial models like reverse income statements.
  • FOCUS: Narrow and prioritize uncertainties using "certainty tables" and "impact assessment" to focus on the risks with the greatest potential impact.
  • TEST & ADAPT: Design in-market and thought experiments that help maximize learning and apply the lessons, so you can refine your business model and strategy and reduce your risks.

He invokes many case studies to illustrate the tools and process steps, including:

  • Procter & Gamble's use of computer simulations -- running nearly 10,000 market scenarios -- helped them sharpen their approach to developing in-market trials for a new probiotic product.
  • Godrej & Boyce's spot sensitivity analysis to test consumer purchasing power and price points for its successful battery-powered refrigeration system "chotuKool."
  • Medtronic carefully crafted pilot programs at a handful of hospitals in India, to develop a disruptive business model that brings pacemakers to patients who sorely needed them, but historically couldn't access or afford the technology.
  • U.S. Navy's early testing protocols for radiation shielding in nuclear submarines.

"Great ideas and businesses are forged in the heat of the marketplace, and they never survive their first contact with the market totally intact," says Anthony. "Companies and entrepreneurs need to get past the myth of the 'perfect idea' and focus on trial-and-error experimentation, which is the true test of innovation. If you are systematic in breaking down your assumptions and proving your idea in the market, then you and your idea stand a fighting chance at disruption, and maybe even changing the world."

For a copy of The First Mile or to speak with Scott D. Anthony, please contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications at +1 (212) 255-8386 or [email protected].

ABOUT SCOTT D. ANTHONY
Scott D. Anthony is the Managing Partner of Innosight. Based in the firm's Singapore office, he leads its expansion into the Asia-Pacific region as well as its venture capital activities (Innosight Ventures). He has worked with clients ranging from national governments to companies in industries as diverse as healthcare, telecommunications, consumer products and software. He is the author of The Little Black Book of Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2012) and The Silver Lining (Harvard Business Review Press, 2009). He is the co-author with Clayton Christensen of Seeing What's Next (Harvard Business Review Press, 2004), The Innovator's Guide to Growth (Harvard Business Review Press, 2008) and Building a Growth Factory (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).

ABOUT INNOSIGHT
Innosight is a strategy and innovation consulting firm that helps organizations navigate disruptive change and manage strategic transformation. We work with enterprise leaders to identify new growth opportunities, accelerate innovation initiatives, and build capabilities. Innosight is based in Lexington, MA, with offices in Singapore and Lausanne, Switzerland.
www.innosight.com.

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

@ThingsExpo Stories
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.