Nowadays, it is very easy for a company to start building innovative solutions. At the same time, it has become much harder to finish any of them successfully. Digital technology is cheaper and more available than ever, digital transformation is becoming the norm, and customers are ready to embrace the next big thing. All this seems to be a part of a problem.
"Netguru’s take on…” is a series explaining how Netguru approaches important subjects that are often overhyped or misunderstood within the industry such as sustainability, digital transformation, or strategy. We break them down to shift the discussion from abstract concepts to tangible actions that influence our everyday work. This article lays out our take on innovation consulting.
The struggle of innovation trailblazers
According to Jinder Kang, Netguru’s Innovation Consulting Lead, "as entry barriers are becoming smaller and more companies jump on the innovation bandwagon, competition ensues, speed becomes a crucial factor, and the complexity of managing an innovation portfolio grows. Many companies are not used to such a pace of work and focus on the technical aspects, overlooking the human and organizational ones."
Non-technical challenges for digital disruptions
People’s needs, fears, and doubts should be addressed with just as much attention as technical requirements.
"Many organizations simply announce Agile roles and practices, counting on successful delivery to follow,"
says Jinder. "What they are missing are discovery and change processes that solidify all innovative endeavors. Without these in place, you will fail to identify the right challenges and people will disengage, leading to the breakthrough idea not gaining enough traction to, well, break through,” he adds.
Great discovery helps you to constantly identify the opportunities that will deliver both utility and impact. Whereas good change management prepares the organization for embracing new solutions and ensures that business continuity is maintained during and after the disrupting of the impacted business processes.
The second important factor is overcoming the complexity of managing an innovation portfolio.
"Tracking business value across innovation projects is crucial and requires regular evaluation of the outcomes throughout a product’s life cycle."
Without the right methods, companies often blindly follow the initial plan instead of pivoting or even stopping the project. It's not the right approach.
"As a result, they waste resources to deliver solutions that no one really uses, or are apprehensive about pivoting - despite what all the data is telling them — due to the cost and effort invested to date."
Enter the innovation management
There is a naive belief that innovation should not be constrained by any managerial processes because it will block people’s creativity and passion. Jinder disagrees. "There is no company in the world that has unlimited resources."
"Even the Googles and Amazons of the world need to prioritize and evaluate their initiatives to make sure they will see a return on investment and remain competitive."
This is where the biggest confusion regarding innovation and invention occurs.
Too much administrative overhead might suffocate creative efforts for sure, but some level of managerial supervision is necessary to build an effective innovation pipeline.
"It’s all about finding the right balance between freedom to experiment and accountability for the results of those experiments. There needs to be a way to inspect, provide constructive feedback, and make decisions about the further progress of innovation projects,” explains Jinder.
"There are numerous ways to organize your firm for innovation, with the key being the ability to find the right structure that enhances your innovative capabilities whilst allowing for the company to reap the benefits of innovation”.
Structured innovation management practices help companies to effectively source ideas, prioritize the most promising projects to launch within the available budget, and evaluate their progress to optimize the ROI of the portfolio.
According to Jinder, "it should not be a rigid framework that constrains innovators, as many may think. On the contrary, good innovation management enables the flexibility necessary to make informed decisions about where to allocate time and resources to succeed."
End-to-end innovation consulting
Managing the innovation pipeline requires significant resources and keeping up with the pace of transformation across industries. Even companies that can afford this investment benefit from having a partner with a fresh perspective, different experiences, and compatible skills that help them to discover and take on new opportunities.
"Unfortunately, many innovation consultants stop at a PowerPoint displaying the Business Model Canvas."
"At Netguru, we support our clients all along the innovation journey."
The Netguru innovation journey starts with an idea, an opportunity or a challenge and ends with a product that people want to use. Whatever stage a company is at, Netguru can jump in to provide support and expertise to increase the chances of solution delivery.
- Discovery, strategy and a culture of innovation
"We help to assess and shape the innovation culture that unlocks the true potential of employees. We advise organizations on how to think strategically about innovation to harness the energy and insight of the customer and engaged teams to identify and implement the right ideas."
"Being deeply rooted in the startup ecosystem helps Netguru in sourcing breakthrough ideas and cutting-edge technologies. Additionally, having experience in different industries enables us to cross-pollinate surprising but effective solutions."
- Experimentation and validation
"It’s all about assessing potential business value and feasibility of making it happen. We can achieve it by organizing a hackathon, running Design Sprints, conducting customer development, or collaborating with clients through the front-end exploration cycle of innovation to develop a prioritized solution portfolio."
"We have broad and deep design and technical expertise gained from over 600 completed projects. We use agile methods and practices to quickly and iteratively deliver working solutions."
- Portfolio management
"Knowing when to increase the amount of resources and when to pull the plug is crucial for a portfolio’s overall success. We help to create and monitor Key Performance Indicators for tracking projects’ business value, and then use prioritization frameworks to allow the most promising ones to continue to flourish."
- Change management
"As soon as an idea is validated, we start working on how to effectively communicate its value proposition and ensure adoption, both internally and externally. Change management makes the transition from legacy solutions smooth and effective."
- Scale up
"Work doesn’t end with shipping the product — making people use it is the final goal. We offer Growth as a Service support to effectively reach potential customers, amplifying the scale of new market entry and market penetration."
The art of finishing
It’s easy to start an innovation journey. Many executives read Gartner reports, pick a handful of the latest buzzwords, and jump into software development. The harsh reality is that it takes much more than this: market understanding, organization design, strategic thinking, expertise in domains beyond technology, and experience in effective innovation management. It’s difficult to grow all these capabilities internally.
That’s why only a few will see their ideas come to life and thrive in the market.
"Collaboration with an innovation consultancy can get companies up to speed quickly without jeopardizing their regular business,"
— Jinder emphasizes. "It enables them to get the most out of the organization’s knowledge and use proven tactics to develop their innovative idea into a successful product."
Jinder concludes that "a good innovation partner brings an external perspective to identify challenges , designs and prioritizes solutions, fills gaps in an organization capabilities, and efficiently delivers an innovative product or service that outpaces the industry."