Helping Innovation Happen Fast: A Pipeline To Pour On Speed

Pete Newell

June 7, 2022

Nimble creativity and urgent problem-solving are the hallmarks of a successful innovation process, yet they are often the most elusive qualities to perfect.

When it comes to innovation, many organizations suffer from a speed problem. Technology is constantly changing as it becomes adopted and adapted to meet various needs, and challenges themselves rapidly evolve around dynamic issues. We find ourselves challenged by the length of time it takes us to discover problems in the first place, to translate them in a way that other people will understand, and to recruit a diverse group of people to devise a potential pathway to deliver a solution. 

I had a chance recently to sit down with Kaihan Krippendorff, host of the Outthinkers Podcast, to discuss the process of innovation and what that means from a practical perspective.

We had a dynamic conversation about the assumed challenges and measurable improvements that large organizations can achieve when adopting a process like BMNT’s Innovation Pipeline. I broke it down with some relatable examples and tactical steps that can be employed by any organization, with the goal of innovation at speed. You can hear the full conversation here

The Innovation Pipeline

Start at the beginning: Are you solving the right problem?

Sourcing problems and opportunities is step one, followed by curating problems into concepts that are ready to be solved. Part of the beauty of an innovation pipeline is that you start with a lot of volume and make hard decisions about what goes through it, thus increasing the velocity in terms of speed and pressure. The problem is most organizations don't source a large pool of opportunities. Consider that Silicon Valley creates a thousand new businesses a year and spends the next two years killing off 999 of them. Venture Capitalists don’t view this as failure, but rather see this as the price of learning and gaining focus. 

You don't get speed without killing things off. You can't do everything fast, but you can experiment to learn where to invest money, time and energy. Far too often, leaders in large organizations can't define the process or who decides what moves from one phase of the pipeline to the next. This consumes bandwidth and clogs workflow. 

Elevating Innovation programs internally

Another issue that gets in the way of having a successful  innovation process is an organization’s own internal rules and processes. While these operational processes can keep the day-to-day business humming effectively, they are not useful for moving innovation processes along, and can actually self-sabotage an organization’s effort to accelerate problem-solving (more on the topic here).

Deciding when to make an exception to the rules and when to accept risk to get leaps and bounds beyond where they were takes hard conversations and getting out, talking with staff, partners and customers to find where these issues exist. 

More about how corporations and government agencies can address these challenges and build a successful innovation process in my full interview with Kaihan here, or skip to the time stamps below: 

3:04: Definition of strategy

6:15: The 10 key steps for accelerating innovation

9:27: Where large organizations most often falter in this process

11:00: Why each failure is an opportunity to learn

15:20: One organization that gets this process right

17:18: Why killing an idea is sometimes the best move

17:57: The first steps a Chief Strategy Officer should take in their organization

19:08: Why we wrote the book on Creating Innovation Navigators

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