Systematic Approach to Innovation

Despite 86% of CEOs viewing innovation as crucial, only 6% are satisfied with their outcomes.

A prevalent myth about successful innovation is that it stems from a lone genius experiencing a sudden eureka moment. However, breakthroughs such as the discovery of microorganisms, the atomic bomb, and the Saturn V rocket were the result of a series of advancements in fields like mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry, highlighting the collaborative nature of innovation.

The scientific revolution transformed our understanding and exploration of the world, significantly improving quality of life. It emphasized three core principles:

  1. Knowledge comes primarily from observation and experience, not from religious or philosophical beliefs.
  2. All knowledge and theories are open to questioning and doubt.
  3. The best way to develop theories is through systematic data collection from observation and experimentation.

These principles were formalized in the Scientific Method—a structured approach involving hypothesis formulation, experimentation, result assessment, and conclusion drawing, which is repeated indefinitely.

In the early 2000s, businesses adopted a similar approach to tackle high failure rates in traditional product development. They looked to Silicon Valley’s VCs and tech companies, learning that rapidly testing ideas based on market needs through hypothesizing, experimenting, and refining was essential for innovation.

Yet, even today, innovation challenges persist. Despite 86% of CEOs viewing innovation as crucial, only 6% are satisfied with their outcomes. The problem lies in the gap between understanding the theories of design thinking, lean, and agile, and implementing them practically.

At Future Foundry, we addressed this by creating Velocity™, a codified process for building ventures, products, and services. We aimed to develop a systematic, scalable, and repeatable model to ensure everyone was aligned.

For those struggling with practical implementation, here’s our approach:

  1. Document workflows and decisions: We detailed each process stage, including tools, roles, decision-making criteria, and key metrics. We created standardized templates for inputs and outputs.
  2. Use a project management tool: We developed a tool to manage backlogs, plan sprints, allocate resources, track time, and report portfolios.
  3. Develop training programs: We designed a six-week training program for all team members and clients, including workshops and regular updates.
  4. Create a knowledge-sharing platform: Our internal wiki allows team members to share best practices and insights from past projects.
  5. Automate tasks: We automated routine tasks like setting up testing environments and data collection.
  6. Review quarterly: Every 12 weeks, we review the process, considering feedback, outcomes, and efficiency metrics, and make necessary adjustments.

Though it requires effort, embedding these methodologies into daily operations yields significant benefits: building muscle memory, creating a common language, and driving substantial returns.

Innovation success comes not from sudden flashes of genius but from persistent, systematic application of inquiry and improvement. This relentless pursuit, rooted in the scientific method, is key to sustained growth and success.

For more advice on innovating with speed and focus, join The Fold, our free community for corporate innovators.

Check our other blog posts