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Quick & Dirty Innovation

rod-stewart-maggie-mayMany companies started 2014 with the good intention of “getting after innovation” this year. Was that your organization? How’s that going? Are you jumping for joy or singing the blues?

Some companies have worked hard and consistently at innovation all this year. They started the year running and got things done. Look at the slew of announcements Apple just made (to be fair the watch took years). Other companies made a good start but got caught up in the red tape of too much process. So, it’s September now. For those of you who’ve been busy keeping up with business operations and haven’t had time to do formal innovation this year, all is not lost.

Consider: Quick & Dirty Innovation (QDI)

“Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you, it’s late September and I really should be back in school…”

From the song, Maggie May, lyrics by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton

This time of year can evoke regret. You can hear that tinge of regret when listening to that old Rod Stewart song, Maggie May. Regret can be a motivator — this is the time of year I often get a call from organizations that are anxious to get something done by year end. It’s possible. Quick & Dirty Innovation — QDI — is the answer we’ve developed based on experience to kick-start efforts — even if it is late September and you really should be back in school.

So, what is Quick & Dirty innovation? It’s doing something quickly with the least possible fuss and use of resources. It might  remind you of Lean. It should, it borrows concepts from Lean, but it’s Not Lean. Lean is strategic and long term. Quick & Dirty is tactical, practical, and short term. In QDI you’re not reaching for breakthrough, you’re reaching for low hanging fruit. QDI is usually low-risk incremental innovation. QDI means cutting corners and taking minimal risks in order to get points on the board fast. Lean requires learning Lean. QDI leverages an outside facilitator, with supporting resources, to get you started. It can work fast and it deliberately ignores some classic “best practices” in innovation. And, it can foreshadow and inform a more formal systemic effort, so, it’s a good step to prepare for 2015.

Elements of Quick & Dirty Innovation (QDI) Success

  1. A burning desire to do something innovative, fast. Fast meaning, now, and something — even if purely tactical. It’s a 12 week cycle — or less.
  2. You need a modicum of support from top management, that is, agreement to get something done and to make quick decisions.
  3. QDI requires a small, but appropriately talented, and motivated team.
  4. A minimum of outside help is the goal, but a skilled facilitator at the start to get the process moving is required. That’s where KILN USA and Gregg Fraley come in.

Gregg Fraley and KILN USA are here to assist with a rapid innovation program. It features an immersive one day workshop to kick-off your QDI effort, with preparation and follow-on advisory services. Prior to the workshop there’s an in-depth interview. During the program there’s active process coaching, a KILN provided flexible cycle guide document, and a recap/planning workshop to complete.

The QDI Service includes: 

  1. A pre-engagment research informs preparation for the workshop and cycle.
  2. At the QDI Workshop: A brief introduction to Quick and Dirty Innovation is presented.
  3. The team defines what’s possible to do in the short term. What are the low hanging fruit area(s)? What resources can be cobbled together? What are customers telling us? What insights can be take action on? What’s the “quick win?”
  4. Mapping out an aggressive but realistic project plan, KILN has the project cycle template you can adapt (called FuseTrail)
  5. Getting agreement on the plan.
  6. Framing a QDI question for ideation (based on ideas regarding opportunity areas).
  7. Start generating ideas to answer the QDI question (but the ideation doesn’t end on the workshop day)
  8. Set up ways for others to participate in ideation (leverage an affordable rented Idea Management System from KILN USA, administered by us).
  9. Celebrate the effort with a launch party end-of-day
  10. Post workshop: The small team will orchestrate a fast-moving innovation cycle, putting a “best few”, or even just one idea with impact, in front of management for approval quickly. Then rapid prototyping, testing, and launch. If problems are encountered the facilitator comes back in and does emergency creative problem solving.
  11. At the end of the cycle, the facilitator comes back in to assess how things went. The facilitator then assists you with taking the learnings of your QDI innovation cycle in order to make a more strategic, more formal plan for your innovative future.

Could QDI work for your organization? Best case scenario — you get something with impact accomplished, and soon. It’s motivating to solve an innovation challenge and get points on the board, call it momentum. If you fail with a “good effort” you’ll learn a great deal about what you should do next to succeed. If you fail with a “poor showing” you’ll also learn that your biggest problem in innovation has to do with internal culture. In a sense, you can’t lose.

Quick & Dirty Innovation could turn out to be near term profitable — while paving the way for Long Range and Strategic Innovation. 

Get in touch if this is of interest, we’ve got our running shoes on. 

 

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