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
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp 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. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, 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. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
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.
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.