Innovation is crucial in product lifecycle, especially to a company’s long term relevancy. However, innovators are often challenged by the mandate to focus on current demands. To begin the transformation from reactionary to visionary, innovators need to overcome challenges of being a visionary innovator.
One of the most common reasons for failed strategic programs is the inability to produce demonstrable outcome of value i.e. consistent production of tangible deliverables regardless of how theoretical the innovation is. Though innovation programs are by definition the practice of exploring new and often unproven technology and markets, a good strategist is required to plan for tangible results of value in short-term increments.
In a corporate setting, the disruptive strategist is required to be aware of the company short-term and long-term goals and offer a strategic roadmap with strict adherence to a timeline in alignment with company long-term goals and provide strategic sprints i.e. incremental, demonstrable milestones closely aligned to short term goals.
Take as an example, an innovation project to create a wide-area network to track multiple dispersed outdoor objects using a mesh network of short range radio technology that’s ultra low power and self-powered. Break down the milestones and objectives to short duration achievable milestones.
The project milestones may look like this:
Milestone 1: Find existing ultra low power tracking solutions with key variables such as short range vs. connectivity (modem), outdoor vs. indoor, self-powering vs. low-power consumption. Assess the plus or minuses of each variable and note which are important for your use cases. If the project is stalled at this stage, at least you have a portfolio of off-the- shelf products you can leverage.
Milestone 2: Based on your findings from milestone 1, narrow down on a solution that best fit your use case. Assess cost, scalability and feasibility of the solution. If the project is stalled at this stage, at least you have a blueprint for when the project can be picked up again
Milestone 3: Based on the blueprint you have created, you can start building a prototype or two. Assess the lifecycle, vendor/manufacturing feasibility, test in various different environments. If the project is stalled at this stage, at least you have a manufacturing plan, test reports from your prototype that you can leverage when the project can be picked up again.
You can carry on breaking down the milestones even more or continue on expanding on the milestones until you have reached your ultimate use case/objectives.
The added value to the strategic sprints is the ability to adjust the strategic roadmaps and perform rapid realignments when corporate priorities or market conditions change.