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The Innovation Blog

Lin-sanity, Innovation and The Educated Gut

Posted by David Culton on March 7, 2012

Though I'm not a Knicks fan, I must admit that I've been caught up in "Lin-sanity": the meteoric (and still very early) rise of Jeremy Lin, an unheralded, journeyman bench player who several weeks ago was on the verge of another cut but has put together the most impressive start for a player's first 5 games in the past 40 years. Better than Bird, Jordan or Lebron. Who could have guessed?

Finding the stars in your portfolio of ideas is a little like finding an NBA player -- some are fast-tracked for stardom and shine (or don't), and it's the 'scouts' (product managers, marketers, R&D folks) job to sniff out the good and great ones. Some ideas are like Jeremy Lin was -- they have the potential, but fall through the cracks, maybe not even making it to the 'bench'. What if you could find those diamonds in the rough, just one or two, that reside in your organization? What value would that bring to your organization? To your customers?

So how do you do that? One way is to revisit your old ideas with new eyes, but lets stick with our athletic analogy for the moment. As in sports, the larger business world has a variety of metrics (definitive market potential, ROI after x years, etc.) that are used to pick the strong ideas. With breakthrough ideas -- ones that bring something truly new to the game -- these types of metrics are often what we call "imaginary numbers", because breakthrough innovation by definition means there is nothing to compare it to; it has no frame of reference. Then what do you rely on? To me there are two major tools: a process that nurtures rather than kills new ideas and something that we call The Educated Gut.

Criteria vs. Metrics
We once worked with a client who had historically required the Net Present Value of an idea immediately following ideation. Truly new ideas wither and die rather quickly in this environment. Instead, rate beginning ideas on a few (4-5) criteria, and use that in concert with an evaluation model that preserves what's good about an idea, while clearly identifying flaws (and they've all got them) in a way that encourages problem solving. We call this an Open-Minded Evaluation. Some of the criteria we find are the most powerful are:

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Topics: open-minded evaluation, David Culton, Educated Gut, Innovation criteria, new product development

Two models for evaluating early innovation

Posted by Jay Terwilliger on April 5, 2011

Last week on this blog I posted "The "SNIFF" test - criteria for early innovation decision making".  This is a simple, but effective five criteria model for evaluating concepts early in the innovation process. Recently I had the pleasure of attending a workshop led by Jay Paap.  Dr. Paap is the founder of Paap Associates, Inc (PAI), and has been consulting to major companies in the field of innovation for 40 years. In his work, he has also dealt with the issue of client companies seeking to apply metrics or find some other useful criteria for making early stage decisions in innovation, and has a slightly different, but intriguingly similar model to offer.

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Topics: Innovation criteria, Innovation, Innovation Metrics, criteria for innovation, decision-making, technical innovation, criteria, innovation decision-making

The "SNIFF" test - criteria for early innovation decision making

Posted by Creative Realities on March 28, 2011

Innovation clients frequently ask us how to make better decisions when pursuing breakthrough innovation.  Decision making in pursuit of breakthrough and transformational innovation is significantly different that which is for sustaining or incremental innovation (where frames of reference, past benchmarks, etc. exist).  There are five key decision points along the journey.  At each point, beliefs, assumptions, SWAGS, etc. will get tighter, and more useful.  

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Topics: Jay Terwilliger, SNIFF test, Innovation criteria, selecting, selection, evaluating ideas, evaluating innovation, Innovation, Innovation Strategy, criteria for innovation