Now there is an alternative to the stage-gate innovation process

For too long anyone in an organisation that wanted to innovate had to use the stage-gate process.

Whilst this process has many advantages for large innovation projects e.g. structured, formal and logical.

It also has many disadvantages.

These are:

– It is slow

– Complex

– The process can become too linear with no feedback or iterative loops.

– Whilst the process has a formal and planned step by step guide it sometimes lacks an emergent quality i.e. you cannot always anticipate what the next steps will be

– Sometimes the business case is not addressed until the end of the process. By then it can be too late as much time, energy, money and political capital has been invested.

– There is often not a specific learning or sharing step.

We need a new process particularly for smaller projects.

Announcing the 5 steps small wins innovation process

1. Create
This is where you create or generate a new idea, solution or action to a problem, product or situation.

It could be that you or your team would like to challenge the status quo.

At this stage you could also use a number of faster, more nimble idea generation tools like Ideas Blitz, for example.

2. Test

The aim in this step is to take your best ideas and try and test these with a user, consumer or colleague.

The test or experiment should be done quickly, easily and cheaply.

3. Measure

Now your small group or team measures what happens.

This is the one step that many leaders say they are very good at.

The aim is to obtain some evidence or tangible results on what users thought or did with your new approach.

You can then try again with another solution or idea.

4. Learn

This is an often over-looked step in any change or innovation process.

Ask yourself — what did the group learn?

How is the result different from what we expected or planned?

Why is this the case?

5. Share

The last step is an important as the rest.

In any medium to large organisation it is vital to share the results of your small wins innovation process.

This means that others can learn from your journey and it avoids duplication.

It also might mean that another team or division could offer you some advice or a different perspective which might help you unlock a better solution.

What are the benefits of the 5 step small wins innovation process?

– It is faster that the stage-gate process

– The process is ideal for small projects.

– It is simple, easy and iterative.

– There are specific, explicit steps that cover learning and sharing which the stage process often overlooks.

– The process can be used by anyone, any team at any level on any small project.

Most of all the small wins innovation process can be learned.

This means that everyone in an organisation has a mechanism to contribute and test their ideas.

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