Science museums often have a coin vortex funnel for collecting donations while demonstrating the effects of rotational energy and gravity. The shape of the funnel pulls the coin down towards the center while rotation provides stability so that the coin doesn’t fall over. The coin accelerates as it moves towards the center yet stays upright, even when it’s nearly horizontal and swirling rapidly in the neck of the funnel.
In my book, High Velocity Innovation, I outline the five key components that innovation teams need for acceleration. These are the things that an innovation team needs to have in place so that they have the pull they need to accelerate innovation. The combination of these pieces builds a “center of gravity” that pulls innovative ideas into the organization while providing stability for the teams.
Momentum Provides More Than Just Speed
Speed may not be the most important thing to you. You may be more worried about overloaded developers. You may sense lack of pull for innovation. Your group may need to get more products out with the same resources. Your team may need to rebuild the organization’s confidence in its ability to deliver a successful product, after a disappointing release. Your teams may need more stability.
High Velocity Innovation practices help you with these problems — by increasing pull for innovation and a group’s effectiveness at delivering innovation — so that they can sustain the momentum provided by your investments without instability.
The components of High Velocity Innovation are:
- A strategic imperative for innovation because the company’s vision and goals cannot be achieved without it.
- Team structures that foster cross-functional collaboration with sponsorship from top management and leadership from an Innovation Team Leader who knows how to drive innovation through execution.
- A flexible program management framework that allows the Innovation Team Leader and the team to use the right tools for the nature of the work they need to do, and helps them achieve the right balance of learning vs. doing.
- Knowledge systems with the ability to capture what the team learns and then use that knowledge to make better decisions at the right time, and leverage the knowledge into platforms and product families.
- Metrics and KPIs that reinforce the pull for innovation, rather than pushing it aside.
These five elements work together to pull the right ideas from the organization, and then pull the work to investigate them, decide which ones to pursue, and then drive them through execution.
Rapid Learning Cycles is the center of gravity because it generates pull for the rest.
The Rapid Learning Cycles framework is at the center of High Velocity Innovation because it helps pull these things from an organization.
- The need to close Knowledge Gaps and make Key Decisions around product/market fit will drive better strategic decisions and pull commercial partners into a more collaborative relationship with the team.
- Real-time knowledge capture will give teams a base of knowledge to use for decision-making and build into platforms.
- The Rapid Learning Cycles framework itself changes how Innovation Team Leaders and other program managers approach their programs, and provides the data for KPIs that are better predictors of the health of an innovation program.
The companies featured in High Velocity Innovation generally started with Rapid Learning Cycles. As they began to experience success and desired to use Rapid Learning Cycles in more programs, they developed the other elements as they needed to scale up.
Their stories demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, with hundreds of products on the market today that have been delivered with High Velocity Innovation.
Consider where you are on your journey to accelerate innovation:
- Do you believe that your company could get its products to market faster, but not sure how?
- Are you ready to pilot Rapid Learning Cycles as your first step towards faster innovation?
- Do you have some of the elements of High Velocity Innovation in place but still have some gaps?
- Do you have most of the system in place and now just need to optimize it?
Finally, consider which of the components of High Velocity Innovation you already have, and which areas are weakest, perhaps even entirely missing. Even a small amount of work to redefine metrics, reinforce knowledge capture or build a “good enough” strategy can do a lot towards building momentum for innovation.