In the HBR Blog Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days authors Scott Anthony, David Duncan and Pontus Siren talk about a mid way approach to innovation for organizations. They suggest this practical way as something between a big bang approach that needs lots of strategy and resources and waiting for absolute serendipity.
In a a 90 days plan, divided into 4 neat and clean phases ( with some overlap of course) they propose what can be done in a focussed and fast tracked way, listing the key responsibilities of the drivers of this initiative, specially the senior management involved. Idea is to pick ideas that can work, work on them to see if they really work and if they work, make all efforts to make them work in the best interest of the organization. This is proposed without making any fundamental changes in the organization structure or strategy. As I always say, success or failure of these kinds of initiatives depends on the leadership commitment – without which it is nearly impossible to achieve success.
In the first phase authors ask you to define what innovations are you going to focus on – improving things that are already there, or looking for new ones to expand and grow or a combination of both. This clarity is a must as every one in the organization can have their own interpretation of Innovation and depending on their position and perspective, they can have their own view of what innovation should be. In second phase, they suggest choosing the the strategic areas to work on primarily by looking at the unmet needs of customers or the under-utilized assets and resources within the boundaries of the organization. Third phase – get the right resources and let them work on a prototype. In the last phase manage the project like a VC funded idea with tight controls and a focus on output
Authors give examples from across the board to illustrate how their proposed approaches have been deployed by various organization. I think this approach is something that most organizations can follow with a bit of calibration for their individual needs.