The Innovation Accelerator and Lab vision was presented to business leaders in order to transform our approach to R&D. By merging business strategy and design thinking, we’re able to validate new innovations earlier and increase our success-to-failure ratio.
Previously, new product introductions (NPI) efforts in the business varied by process, funding levels, and different definitions of success. This led to a haphazard approach to new products, with limited ways to compare product successes across the board.According to studies by McKinsey, over 70% of senior executives say innovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth.
I led the vision, strategy, and execution of what would become an award-winning Innovation Lab in nine months. To bring this vision to life, the Accelerator is comprised of a physical space, a digital portal and innovation process, and a cross-functional team.
Tier-based funding model, focusing on user and market validation every step of the way.
We established a common platform to enable leadership to integrate innovation into the strategic-management agenda so it can be encouraged, managed, tracked, & measured.
Using a platform called BrightIdeas, everyone in the organization is able to view all ideas in flux, see their progress, and download the documentation-in-progress. Previous ideas, ones that have been reprioritized or invalidated in the market, are kept in the backlog. Then allows teams to research past learnings, or pick up old ideas that now may be relevant after markets have changed.
This platform also empowered all employees to submit their own ideas, and start building a case for it. Employees and leadership alike then vote on ideas to fund and progress to the next round.
As we set out to validate our ideas, it’s imperative to involve users and customers alike. Design thinking, an iterative framework to validate the right problems to solve in collaboration with users, played a key role in ensuring we start with user empathy and end with real feedback.
As new ideas and potential products are evaluated by leadership, it’s nearly impossible to compare ideas and potential product potential without a common baseline. We created a standard set of documentation, centered around the Business Model Canvas, for teams to fill out and validate along the way. This ensured the right questions were being asked and validated, and enabled leadership to easily compare ideas to one another and prioritize investments.
Harvard Business Review’s research shows that office space in not just an amortized asset, it’s a strategic tool for growth. The statistics report a 75% increase in productivity through dedicated collaboration space.
In this spirit, the Innovation Accelerator team partnered with WeWork and opened up the Innovation Lab in Atlanta, Georgia, with access to facilities in every major city. We use this space to facilitate weekly co-creation workshops with our customers and partners.
Standardized documentation, validated over time
Today this team is on the front-lines of our business strategy, leading executive strategy and setting the course for new business initiatives. I successfully took ownership of a $50mm+ innovation budget, leading projects through standardized documentation, market validation, and user validation.