Technology budgets have to cover a lot of ground these days. And with money tight and uncertain times ahead, innovation can seem like a nice-to-have more than a necessity. But it’s those who help form the future that will own it. Yes, the risks are high when it comes to R&D, but here are 5 ways to make the journey more palatable and easier to manage for all involved.
- Harmonize risk and creativity. Stay away from blue sky ideas and rank your new concepts based on things like speed-to-market, ease of implementation, and usability. In other words, let your creative thinkers loose, but ground your future endeavors in reality. At least for now.
- Put a time limit on the process. Innovation can sometimes take time. Instead of keeping projects on an open-ended timeline, set an end date for when something must launch by. If you hit roadblocks or if the idea just simply isn’t viable, better to know sooner than later.
- Listen to the market. Make sure you’re not working in a vacuum. Solicit feedback from your clients on what they need. Survey your industry for fresh feedback. Working from a crowdsourced idea will help mitigate risks and also make getting buy-in from the C-suite much easier.
- Get board approval often. Speaking of getting buy-in, make sure you’re presenting your progress and setbacks regularly to key stakeholders. Don’t wait for a year-end review. Provide monthly status reports and ask for approval for advancing to the next stage of your key projects, so leadership feels like they are a part of your achievements.
- Launch MVPs. From the Lean Startup school of thought, feel comfortable launching an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) anytime you can. An MVP is simply the most stripped-down version of your idea you can launch and have it actually work. From there you gather feedback, revise, and launch your improved version. Iterate perpetually until you’ve got a product your end-user loves.
While “innovate or die” may be a bit of an overstatement, it’s not too much to say if you stall or slow down your research and development, your hesitation could end up being your greatest regret just a few short years down the road.