Innovation is always in season.

A few weeks ago, published a bulletin that captured succinctly popular perceptions of how businesses innovate. The article reported on a recent panel on innovation “Every Tech Brand Has an R&D Mission. What Works?” moderated by Josie Jeffries, design manager at Slack. Although all the panelists provided thoughtful input, this comment from Samantha Warren, senior experience design manager at Adobe, resonated especially:

“Innovation requires a lot of calculated risk taking. When we present something that is considered an innovation, some people think it came out of a magical box. They don’t realize all of the hard work and thinking that happens behind the solution.”

Amen! The phrase calculated risk taking is especially important. For the past few years, Moonshot has been helping businesses launch innovative products by taking calculated risks. How? By applying tools such as design thinking and lean innovation, which create a structure and process that allows companies to test innovative ideas and then turn those ideas into products while mitigating risk and cost.

Use the Right Tools

We incorporate design thinking and lean innovation into a methodology known as FUEL. You may have your own methodology, and if you do, I applaud you.  If you don’t, then take heart: innovation does not mean taking enormous risks that waste R&D budgets and crush promising careers. Not at all. Innovation, when managed well, turns product owners and experience designers into rock stars and companies into industry leaders. For example, the design sprint – a recipe for design thinking – is a method for rapidly testing ideas against real customer feedback. And I do mean rapidly: a design sprint occurs over four (and sometimes) five days. The outcome of a design sprint is a prototype that may or may not be turned into a full-blown product, service, or experience.

In the article, Tom Giannattasio, executive principal designer at design firm InVision, was quoted as follows: “One way to remove some of the risk of doing innovation is making sure that you are solving real, legit problems. That’s the first step. Validate that the problem exists. The second part is to then solve that problem.”

The Value of Design Sprints

Validating problems is exactly what a design sprint does through rapid testing and learning. Cross-functional product teams develop hypotheses (just like scientists do) for products that will solve a specific customer problem that the design sprint team agrees to try to solve. And then the team develops a rough prototype tested against feedback from real customers. If the idea survives the design sprint, then the product team proceeds with confidence and knowledge. If not, then the team has a number of options, including revising the original hypothesis and doing more design sprints to test and adapt, or dropping the idea outright. (In fact, in our client work, we often manage multiple design sprints for a new product, experience, or service.)

Businesses may use many other tools to innovate, including metered funding to create and manage budgets for innovation. (My colleague Chris Mui discusses metered funding in this blog post.)

I applaud for shining a spotlight on innovation. Now all you need to do is use the right tools to innovate successfully. Contact Moonshot for more insight into getting started.

Mike Edmonds

Mike Edmonds

Managing Director, VP Product