In the winter 2013 issue of Rotman Management magazine I found an article by Arvind Gupta titled „Adaptive Innovation: Create, Learn, Repeat“ (p. 97 – you can find the article here), which I wanted to comment on. I already touched on the perils of modern-day innovation in one of my previous posts (https://mrrommie.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/i-think-rd-does-it-wrong-sometimes/) There I also stressed the issue of time in development, especially development of complicated products. Mr. Gupta in his article proposes a valid solution for this kind of problems: Adaptive Innovation.
Everyone knows that today speed to market is everything. Ideas, especially the ones poised to change the world, are very scarce. In this world any idea with any chance of success should be exploited and tried, even if to gain a short-lived competitive advantage. But in order to be able to do that, such idea must be turned into a product rapidly, in order for the inventor organization to be quicker than the other guys. Here comes rapid prototyping and learning from market feedback, be it a failure or success. Right now there is simply no time for internal evaluation inside R&D offices or corporate HQ. If we do that, there is a big chance that all of those meetings will miss the factual reaction of markets to any given product, or will miss the opportunity entirely, as it could be already taken by competitor with a quickly patched up prototype.
This happens all the time and I guess that R&D of big organizations need to change in order to adapt. Using in-house old-time procedures, however justified and efficient they may seem, will not be enough. Allowing for long development time justified by evenly spaced reviews may just as well mean that we are busy perfecting something what consumers already bought from someone else.
The solution should be, as rightly pointed out by Mr. Gupta, rapid learning and creation cycle. This can be achieved with special teams, even if from outside of the organization, tasked with creation of prototypes as quickly as possible. Of course one thing needs to precede such action: a decision to run with an idea and this decision must be made also very quickly. But I guess that is another story…