Improving innovation doesn’t have to be rocket science
Welcome to our blog, BrightFire Insights! This post is adapted from our eBook, Introducing the BrightFire App for Innovation and Product Management, which defines eight principles to help companies transform innovation lifecycles, from strategy to prioritization to execution. We hope this post might spur some additional ideas and conversations. Sign up via the form below to access the complete eBook. - Bryan
The term innovation, and its cousin, product management, are among the most written-about topics in business literature.
With good reason. Arguably, innovation and product management are the most important business processes in any growing company.
However, the degree to which these processes are shrouded in mystery, cloaked in buzzwords spoken like magical incantations, can be overwhelming. There are many sophisticated frameworks offered by various authors, each with their own unique vocabulary, such as:
The Toyota Way
The Lean Startup
Phase-Gate / Stage-Gate
Agile / Scrum / Scaled Agile Framework
Lean Six Sigma
The Innovator’s Dilemma (and Solution)
The Ambidextrous Organization
Blue Ocean Strategy
To be clear, these are insightful and valuable frameworks from seasoned experts—worth reading and implementing! However, an unfortunate side effect is they make innovation and product management seem materially different from other business processes, and only improved by a guru with a game-changing new methodology. This makes the prospect of process improvement seem especially daunting, especially for medium-sized or smaller companies that don't have the time or resources to spend on a major new program.
Despite their importance, innovation and product management are also regular business processes. And like other processes, they can be improved by regular people finding new ways to improve decision-making, streamline execution, and improve communication between the cross-functional participants that comprise it. And increasingly, technology is the way companies make these advancements, large and small, regardless of the framework.
One of our goals at BrightFire is to remove the mystery from the innovation and product management processes, and to encourage people from all functions and levels of the company to identify and implement better ways of working. We'll offer practical steps to improve and transform these processes and speak to how technology can help. And most importantly, we'll also ask for your ideas about what has worked (and what hasn't) on your journey. To be notified about these insights, and participate in these conversations, please sign up for our mailing list below.
The takeaway: Don't get overwhelmed by the perceived mystery of innovation. Don't feel intimidated into thinking the only way to improve innovation and product management is by implementing a big framework. There are many ways to drive improvement in innovation and product management--some large, some small, but all are worthwhile. The most important thing is to take that first step forward.
We'd love your feedback and builds on these ideas via comments on our LinkedIn page. Some questions to consider:
In what ways does thinking of innovation and product development as "mysterious" and requiring a "big framework" prevent people from making practical improvements?
In what ways are innovation and product development truly different from other business processes in your company (e.g. sales processes, product processes, supply chain processes)? In what ways are they similar?
What is your experience using any of these big frameworks? What has been hard about using them? What has been useful?
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A full set of references are in the eBook, but some personal favorites are Bob Cooper, Mike McGrath, Eric Ries, Clayton Christiansen, Renée Mauborgne, Tony Ulwick and Michael Tushman. The image above is inspired by Sidney Harris's classic cartoon.