Think for a second about what the ultimately lean innovation process might look like:
- Attack the right problem: Use a proven criteria pattern to evaluate your portfolio of problems to solve and select the problems that will yield the greatest competitive advantage or stakeholder value.
- Frame the problem: Use proven decision/knowledge patterns to rapidly frame the problem to be solved. If the problem is complex; decompose it into chunks of just the right size to allow massively parallel thinking and the right task assignments.
- Focus creative resources: Identify the parts of the problem where game-changing innovation will yield the greatest benefits. Focus brainpower and resources on these areas; less on those where incumbent solutions are OK. Avoid a one-size-fit-all innovation process; tailor the effort/rigor of every task to match its value-creation potential.
- Ideate solutions: Stimulate focused and creative brainstorming of novel solutions. Keep stakeholder needs/requirements always in mind so that solutions address their greatest concerns. Conceive solutions from existing building blocks or directly from stakeholder needs. Innovate within each part of the problem and across the entire problem space.
- Evaluate solutions: Never make a decision from scratch. Use proven criteria patterns to objectively and efficiently look at all sides of solution ideas. Capture the selection/rejection rationale for solutions in a compact, easy-to-communicate, easy-to-reuse form.
- Align solutions: Make sure that solutions to various parts of the problem work together as a seamless whole. Identify “oil vs water” cross-constraints before they sink your solution. Stimulate greater innovation by considering how one solution might enhance another.
- Roadmap solutions: Extend your innovation focus and time-horizon so that your first solution can become an engineered platform on which to build many variants/spin-offs. Increase your ROI. Stop creating one-of-a-kind dead-ends.
- Implement solutions: Manage the consequences of all innovation decisions, i.e. proactively plan execution tasks and mitigate execution risks to accelerate and ensure first-pass success and to limit design rework. Include quick, low-cost experiments to test/validate key assumptions.
- Pivot quickly: If assumptions don’t pan out, use the knowledge created on your first innovation/design pass to quickly pivot to an alternative solution approach.
We call this approach Decision Driven® Innovation and enable it within a single integrated software suite, the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework. You’ll note there’s not much process overhead included; every step in the process focuses on the essential thinking that creates value, captures that thinking in a very compact (lean) form and maintains continuous traceability between all bits of knowledge so that any change can be assessed proactively and managed efficiently.
Try it out and become a lean, mean innovation machine!