For the last article of this series, we focus on piloting revolutionary initiatives, the ideas that can open entirely new businesses for a company, or reinvent legacy businesses stuck in the status quo. Such initiatives are revolutionary because they lack precedent within the company, are transformational or have disruptive implications for the core business. Pursuing them means facing high uncertainty and the need to learn by doing. For these challenges, you want a dedicated incubation group that has the autonomy and specialised skills to think differently, act differently and learn on behalf of the entire company. To illustrate the way this team thinks and acts differently, below are some tips and tricks for piloting under uncertainty. Reset the context for failure For all stakeholders – including the incubation group’s project team and governing body – the focus should be on learning and adapting, with failure defined only as not doing so. Everyone involved should expect that at least some of the starting assumptions will be wrong and that the goal of the pilot is to acquire information to get closer to right. That way, the team can assess and act on learnings objectively, rather than be defensive about things not going to plan. That said, some projects’ best learning and adaptation will be to fail fast. Maybe the pilot exposes a fatally flawedmarket assumption or a technical roadblock. Quickly finding such killers should be seen as an accomplishment. It saves the company time and money, and it steers the overall innovation portfolio to redirect resources efficiently from dead ends to promising avenues. In that regard, you want a group that is built to succeed via productive forms of failure. Pilot early and often With high uncertainty, the value of speculating and debating about an opportunity in the abstract is limited. The faster you can get something to market for the purpose of learning, the more quickly the arguments can be based on facts rather than assumptions. Likewise, the more you can break up a big pilot into a series of smaller ones, the more cheaply you can buy down the risk and uncertainty. This early tangibility can be critical to overcoming scepticism that might otherwise stymie a big idea. Have hypotheses and goals Although the focus is on learning, the pilot process still requires rigour and discipline to achieve that goal. At the start of each pilot, you will want to be clear on:l What you want to learn.l A…
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LeSage Krause part III: revolutionary pilots
Aug 13, 2012 • Global Corporate Venturing
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