Innovation is more than coming up with great ideas. The ideas need to be implemented and that can be a challenge. These challenges become all too real upon entering the commercialization process. This is the part of the process where the ideas are executed, worked, refined, tested, etc. All the things needed to make the idea a value creating tangible. Execute an idea properly is critical for success.
Jumping the hurdle of idea to execution is difficult, much like “crossing the chasm” as described by Moore for an adoption curve. Not being aware and vigilant at this particular part of the process can throw a project off track if not bring it to a complete halt. The idea can fall into the chasm. Fortunately, with awareness, focus and a few activities, ideas enter the commercialization portion of the process and mature to full products, services, business models, etc.
As mentioned before, the execution of ideas can be challenging. It may be the hardest part of the innovation process. Management focus on all the moving parts in this section of the process is key to the success of the project. Watch, review, communicate, and adjust, adjust, and adjust as needed. A concentrated push is required to move an idea to a viable and value creating entity such as a new, profitable product.
What makes it so hard?
With every innovation, some amount of experimentation is required, and with experimentation comes uncertainty. The uncertainty carries with it risk of failure. This can be scary for some organizational cultures.
Assumptions around the innovative idea are being testing in this part of the process. Some tests pass, some tests require taking a step back and reformulating the approach.
Organizational antibodies come out in at this point in the process. Innovation requires internal change. Some will resist the change.
Some organizations lack the ability to commercialize their ideas.
The business team who comes up with the ideas is typically not the ones executing it. Therefore a transition to the execution team is needed.
Strategies for Success
Focusing on the following actions assist in ensuring the project stays on course and successfully enters commercialization:
- Identify the breakthrough new-product ideas.
- Prioritize innovation ideas and projects according to business & innovation strategy.
- Generate & update an accurate, relevant roadmap.
- Ensure project prioritization & roadmap remain align with business strategy.
- Refer back to the “Voice of the Customer” throughout the commercialization process.
- Acknowledge that testing & prototyping is iterative and communicate the results.
- Launch a change management effort to address the corporate antibodies who are attempting to maintain the status quo.
- Support a robust project management and/or product development process and development teams.
- Involve the idea originators in the transition.
A line of sight back to the business strategy is one key component to achieve positive results. This cannot be emphasized enough. The strategy directs the actions throughout the process. Leveraging the business strategy as a guide helps ensure the project is aligned with the business vision and will ultimate achieve the initial goals set by the innovation program. Without the guide of the strategy, the resulting product may be innovative but may not satisfy the customer’s needs or the problem it was attempting to solve.
Coming up with a great idea is only part of innovation. Innovation is more inclusive, incorporating the entire process from generating the idea to creating value, often by selling a profitable product or service. Along the way, there are spots where extra vigilance is required, namely jumping the chasms in the adoption curves. But there exist an additional jump when one attempts to execute an idea. These potholes exist in the road of making a new idea reality. Knowing where the potholes are and how to best maneuver around them can help so that the project does not hit one of the potholes, get a flat tire, run off the road and stop in the ditch.