An Imperfect Process for Adopting Innovation
People come to us with ideas for features, but they’re not sure what to do with them. And if we say we’ll look into them, our innovators aren’t sure when (and if) that will really happen. So a passionate committee offered thoughtful feedback that informed the following imperfect process, consisting of 2 Commitments.
Commitment 1: A Space for Innovation
Bi-weekly review days (already scheduled as part of our Agile sprint) can showcase innovations, mockups, and prototypes, alongside other work. Just let us know what you’d like to share, and if you want help thinking through how to share it, we can provide guidance.
Presentations can be:
- Functioning Code
- Powerpoint/graphic mockups
- Construction paper
- Whiteboard drawings
Commitment 2: A Timely Investigation
After showing off an innovation, the natural question is “What next?”
The Product Manager will add it to the backlog and prioritize it’s investigation. The following has to happen:
- A possible refinement of a prototype for further demo
- A tight definition of scope
- An inquiry to stakeholders
- A weighing of the return on investment (how much value added to how much investment)
- A weighing of the feature alongside already planned activity
- A decision on whether the feature is assigned a version or remains in a backlog until the next time we go spelunking.
Answers to Questions I would ask:
- What does “timely” investigation mean, anyway?
Unfortunately, timely may not mean fast. It means prioritized and handled in accordance with organization needs, but not ignored. In some cases, timely is a day and in others it’s a month. It also means that innovators have an idea of when they will hear back. I would like to offer a 30-day maximum turnaround.
- When will my innovation be in a product?
Possibly never. That sounds harsh, and maybe it is, but to be unclear is to be unkind.. Not all innovations are right for us right now. Even really cool, slick, or simple ones. Building a prototype doesn’t guarantee adoption. In Research and Development labs around the world, about 1 out of 100 new innovations go to market. We’ll probably be closer to 1 out of 10.
That said, if an innovation is selected it will likely be picked up in the next release that it is available for.