Innovation 2.0 : Faster, smarter, safer and bigger
March 23, 2023
The goal of product innovation for any company is market success. However, upon that success comes growth, and historically, the bigger and more successful the company, the more difficult it becomes to innovate.
Traditionally, innovation teams are siloed in large organizations, resulting in a hindered ability to accurately and effectively evaluate an opportunity space. Instead, their outputs are used to show off at expos or file for patents, but they never reach customer hands in a way that solves real-world problems. Bureaucracy, risk aversion, lack of agility, and limited interactions with their target users make it incredibly difficult for teams to capture real-world data on product performance and, ultimately, ensure usability, desirability, feasibility and viability are met.
The reality is the path once taken by organizations and teams to innovation is no longer passable. It needs to be revisited, rethought and rerouted to meet the demands of the day. Organizations need to act faster, smarter and safer while thinking bigger than ever.
Innovation organizations can be thought of as similar to product roadmaps – adaptable and built to address evolving needs. What organizations need is to introduce new ways to de-risk decisions and build with cutting edge technology. They need innovation 2.0, a new mindset and version to focus efforts, inspire teams and ultimately lead the market.
Launch quickly and track key metrics to evaluate opportunity space
I believe that innovation teams must be in front of users if they want to target their innovation toward solving current user needs and diversifying their product offerings. By interacting with users directly, innovation teams can better understand their needs, preferences and challenges. This insight can inform the development of innovative solutions that meet their current needs and identify new opportunities for product diversification. Given exposure to users enables teams to gather feedback on their products, identify areas for improvement and validate their ideas more accurately. By incorporating user feedback throughout the innovation process, teams can increase the chances of creating successful products aligned with user needs and preferences.
However, the above needs to be done with speed. By launching quickly, product teams gain valuable feedback from users used to refine the product and ensure it meets their needs. This early feedback can help teams refrain from investing significant resources in a product that doesn’t resonate with users or allow them to iterate and pivot in order to better align with customer needs or market conditions.
Evaluating the opportunity space is also critical when creating an innovative product. It allows product teams to identify new market opportunities and gaps in the market that they can explore. This can help teams develop innovative products or services that meet unmet customer needs and differentiate themselves from competitors, potentially creating an entirely new product category.
Team autonomy and the power of “No”
Although the success of product innovation is felt across the organization, achieving it can often require a certain level of team autonomy. This autonomy allows teams to make independent decisions and take ownership of the product innovation process, empowering team members and fostering a sense of creativity and passion toward achieving innovation. When given a chance to take “big swings,” teams can develop new and unique ideas and try out innovative approaches to solving problems. This can lead to groundbreaking discoveries about your product/offering and a higher chance of success, but only if a culture of continuous learning and improvement is in place. One that provides upskilling, training and development opportunities for team members to pursue their professional interests, leading to more innovative solutions and ideas.
But that isn’t to say the answer to every idea should be “yes.” In fact, saying no can be just as important as saying yes. That’s because not all ideas are viable or necessary, and it’s important to avoid wasting resources on dead-end projects. By saying no to certain ideas, teams can focus their efforts on the most promising and necessary initiatives and avoid spreading themselves too thin. By saying no, teams can build muscle around innovating and making hard product decisions, which can improve their overall decision-making abilities.
Team structure and company strengths
When striving for product innovation in a large organization, how product teams are organized and work towards common goals is imperative. But how do you do it?
- Define the innovation goals that the team will be focused on. These goals should be aligned with the overall strategic goals of the organization. Develop a north star that speaks to the opportunity space and not just a singular product concept.
- Identify the key stakeholders and team who will be involved in the innovation process, including senior management, department heads, and subject matter experts. Diversity is your biggest strength here because it allows you to empower people with different perspectives and experiences towards a shared mission.
- Provide the team with the necessary resources, and the autonomy to use them. This includes funding, people, technology, and workspace, to support their activities.
- Establish metrics to track the success of the innovation team. These metrics should be aligned with the overall strategic goals of the organization.
- Foster a culture of innovation within the organization by encouraging and rewarding creativity and experimentation.
While the strengths and competencies of the individual and team should never be ignored, they should also never overshadow the existing resources and capabilities inherent to the organization. By building on what the company does well, teams can create products and services that are aligned with the company’s core competencies and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Innovation has always been a way to diversify revenue streams and grow large organizations, but the way to achieve it has changed drastically. The old route of innovation is no longer passable. To remain competitive, large organizations need to act faster, smarter, safer, and bigger than ever before. By launching products quickly and evaluating the opportunity space, providing autonomy to teams to take big swings, and organizing teams to work towards common goals highlighting the company’s strengths, organizations can create a culture of innovation that drives growth and success. The importance of speed, intelligence, safety, and ambition cannot be overstated, and companies that embrace these principles will be the ones that succeed in the long run. The journey toward product innovation is a challenging one, but it is also an exciting one filled with opportunities for growth and success. With the right mindset and strategies in place, large organizations can not only survive but thrive in today’s rapidly changing business environment.
What is your Innovation 2.0?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Join the Thoughtworks newsletter list to receive curated content that exemplifies our Product thinking approach.
Tue May 23
Product Thinking Playbook – Kano Model
With its innovative approach, The Kano model offers a fresh perspective on the subtlety of customer satisfaction. Picture entering a restaurant and realizing there's no cutlery on the table. Typically, it's a small detail that goes unnoticed, but in this fine dining establishment, it’s a glaring inconvenience. On the other hand, picture the delight of being offered a complimentary dessert, leaving you with a lasting memory of the place. Through this intricate dance between expectation and absence, the Kano Model captures the essence of customer satisfaction in its most dynamic form.
Wed May 10
Product I Love: Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons, the heart and soul of Canadian coffee culture, has been serving up delicious donuts, sandwiches, and warm cups of joe for decades. With a presence in over 3,500 locations, it's no wonder Tims is a household name. The Tim Hortons mobile app is bringing the brand even closer to the hearts of Canadians, offering a convenient way to order, pay, and interact with Tims on the go. That’s why we sat down with our Director of Product, Ivana Ciric to get her thoughts on a Canadian icon’s flagship digital product in this edition of Product I Love.