Innovation Intent 2.0

In Chapter 3, we encourage innovators to articulate their Innovation Intent–a preliminary but clear statement of where a project seems to be headed. Now, in Chapter 8, we want to reframe that original intent, taking a step back to incorporate all the new insights gained from research and analysis. It’s a healthy corrective to stage-gate processes that can be too linear.

Ironically, because this is a book with chapters that are numbered sequentially, our discussion of reframing is arguably happening in a linear context. The spirit behind Innovation Intent 2.0 is to have an explicit discussion of new insights and how they affect where a project is headed, rather than merely hoping that the team incorporates each new perspective as it comes along. But that doesn’t mean it’s a once-in-a-project pivot. Reframing can be subtle and gradual.

The big point is to avoid path dependency: getting stuck on your original direction, even as new discoveries–about users, production requirements, and the potential for business viability–start opening new avenues or closing off others. We think the tools we’ve provided in this chapter will help and, if anything, we should encourage their use at times throughout a project. Both of us continue to observe big companies that get stuck with innovation projects that are headed in the wrong direction… sometimes a reframe will reveal there really isn’t an opportunity after all. Calling that out lets you regroup and explore something more workable.

What seems to be working

  • The broad notion of a formal “Innovation Intent 2.0” discussion with the team.
  • The Five Whys and problem-driver analysis are solid.
  • The Innovation Scale, though it could be updated with more recent research showing the investment payoff at each level of ambition.

Areas that need more work or input

  • Should we provide more updated examples? The Cadillac Cimarron is still a peculiar and intriguing example of a GM innovation misstep, but fewer people may remember it today.
  • Can you share any examples of how an approach like this does (or should) work in your own organization?
After you’ve read the chapter, please post your thoughts, constructive critique, and suggestions below. Thank you!
  • Victor

    I just downloaded chapter 8 and read the first two pages. First reaction is love — I like car metaphors, and the Cadillac is a good story (especially contrasted with their current success which strikes me as more bold originality).

    Second, it’s easy to read and feels practical, also good.

    Third, I’m not sure about the phrase “Innovation Intent”. I think it’s useful to coin terms that summarize a concept to help people put it to use, but this phrase doesn’t seem to have enough meaning on its own to help someone recall what it means, I imagine someone reads the book, and after months finds the opportunity to use the ideas, and tries to remember what Innovation Intent is. That I think is the test of the phrase.

    You’re off to a strong start, I look forward to reading the rest.

    • davidmcgaw

      Hi Victor–thanks for the feedback!

      Appreciate the point about the term “Innovation Intent.” Often phrases like this get chosen within a community of practice, seem to make sense, and then only reveal their strengths/weaknesses when shared further. Helpful to hear that it’s not connecting–and definitely worthy of further thought.