The innovation pipeline begins with creating the company's vision of the future and developing its innovation strategy. As long as it is meticulously structured, its result should be an innovation thesis for the company.
Starting an innovation pipeline without having your thesis is a waste of time and money. It is crucial for the thesis to be connected with corporate strategy.
You want to know why? It's simple. Only when the company determines what its ambition for innovation is, it can create an actionable roadmap to get its plan running. In addition, it can establish its innovation horizons with a focus on business objectives or pains.
A modern innovation pipeline has three major steps: validation, clarification, and synchronization. Let's talk in more detail about each step, but you can get a general idea of what each encompasses by looking at the image below.
The first step within an innovation pipeline is validation. At this stage, the goal is to bring critical thinking to the innovation process. The idea is to check whether the pain or opportunity in question impacts the entire organization - not just a team.
It is at this stage that intelligence for innovation plays a crucial role. Here, a detailed analysis of the innovation market is made. A survey of the internal ecosystem of innovation is also made. Existing or planned solutions are compared to the external environment. The aim is to generate learning, create critical thinking and reduce the "passion" for initial ideas.
The main points of intelligence for innovation analyzed here are:
- startups with attractive solutions;
- maturity of the external ecosystem.
Conducting intelligence-based validation for innovation can save enormous amounts for the corporation.
In the clarification phase, the initial use cases, the project delivery plan, and the product development plan are defined. For the last one, the company can develop internally, investing in startups or becoming their customers, which will depend on the player's maturity and the opportunity presented.
At this time, the business and innovation teams examine in detail the solution offered to make sure that it resolves the main frictions and pains of the process.
Both teams should identify a workflow in which the solution has clear utility and defined KPIs. It is necessary to evaluate whether it is worth investing time and money in the idea and build potential cases for MVP (minimum viable product) or PoC (proof of concept).
This phase aims to synchronize the functional support plan with the investment plan in the project. At this stage, the execution is detailed in working blocks that must be aligned with the strategic objectives.
There are a few crucial elements for synchronization to succeed within the company:
- alignment with the sponsor of the innovation project so that the project is seen as relevant and has corporate development support;
- definition of the labor source (internal, external, or mixed);
- incentives for internal players to collaborate;
- understanding the pace of the operation and metrics of the business areas to determine the timing of synchronization;
- decision to produce internally or use startups;
- choice of the project champion in the business area.
The last step in the process is to draw a roadmap to scale the solution when the initial synchronization process is successful.
What are the main benefits of innovation projects
By creating an innovation project in the company, you can expect it to bring some important possibilities.
I listed below the main ones:
- develop and launch a new product in an existing market;
- develop and launch a new product in an adjacent market;
- prepare the company for a future market or business model that is transformational for the company/industry;
- improve existing processes;
- find and retain company talent;
- have the leadership of the company recognized as innovative.