The Ingredients behind Disruptive Innovation

Companies struggle with the thought of innovation, it is often seen as an obstacle. The purpose of innovation is to provide a competitive advantage.

In Australia, Solar PV and Battery Storage is disrupting the fossil-fuelled electricity market, in this article I focus on how this can be achieved.

When organisations lack any form of process for innovation, deployment of new technology tends to be decided on what looks the most attractive, of what the organisation’s decision-makers are drawn towards and advocate for it. This method lacks any material evidence and more often than not will fail as a result.

The Misguided Reality

For innovation to successfully contribute to a company’s vision it has to be designed through a pipeline process from the start to its implementation.

Companies face having to continuously innovative to stay competitive, not factoring in the deterioration of technological advantage, you are effectively falling behind the pack.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the innovative pipeline must be evidence led. Creating technology that doesn’t meet your requirements and doesn’t serve your business and customers effectively is ultimately detrimental to your company’s survival.

The Golden Recipe

Key Problems

What are the key problems faced by your organisation today? Investigate the technology and would it be a worthwhile investment for your business. If the answer is yes, then read on.

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Curation

Curation process, the objective here is to broaden your horizon, find other locations in your business where a similar problem may have existed, or perhaps within the industry in which you operate. You are identifying potential commercial solutions or a minimal viable product that may already exist.

With this, you may find other barriers to deployment, and at this point, you will begin to reduce the number of solutions that are not technically or financially feasible.

Priorisation

Innovate ideas now need to be prioritised, I would advocate for the deployment of Mckinsey’s Three Horizon Model, shown graphically below.

Source: Execute Strategy

The prioritisation process allows the innovators to decide which idea is best worth pursuing in the longer term.

Examine the Solutions and Test the Hypothesis

Is the product/solution a perfect fit? This stage requires engaging with customers, but also wider stakeholders, policymakers, legality, and finance support. You must also think about its viability, scalability and eventual implementation. At the end of the process, you should have obtained compelling evidence that the idea you put forward deserves the investment and final deployment within your organisation.

Incubation

Once hypothesis testing is complete, many projects require a period of incubation (Horizon 1), gathering additional data about your application, allow the team to gel and mature to further develop the product. This stage requires leadership to ensure that the innovation has the team and resources to ensure its longevity.

Integration and Refactoring

At this stage, the innovation will be Horizon 1 or 2, and time to integrate into the existing organisation.

Companies must realise that innovative projects carry technical and organisational debt. Technical is the hardware and software built to validate the hypothesis stage. Organisational debt is the labour comprises that were made to forward the innovative process.

The process of refactoring cleans up any technicalities and ensures the product is stable for deployment. Furthermore, ensures the right team is in place for scaling, it may not be the same team that was used for developing the product. Innovation has to be allocated a budget, as it is often unscheduled and unbudgeted, not having a budget for innovation would be a mistake.

In Practice

Visionaries like Elon Musk have realised the future in an interconnected ecosystem, he jumped into the energy markets with SolarCity and its energy products the Powerwall and Solar Tiles, along with Transportation, SpaceX, Hyperloop, and Tesla. Musk was the first to realise that technology and energy were intertwined, creating new products and new markets (Horizon 3) and capitalising on the first mover advantage.

Startupbootcamp Energy Australia uses similar techniques to mentor smart energy technology startups to overcome the obstacles of innovative deployment, seeking to disrupt current business models in the energy market space.

If done correctly, innovation will have a comprehensive pipeline process, generating ideas is the easy part, the longevity in any innovative is how you execute each stage of the process.

The full article on the innovation process can be found at https://hbr.org/2017/09/what-your-innovation-process-should-look-like

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Trevor Townsend

Trevor Townsend

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CEO Startupbootcamp Australia Founder, Board Member and Startup Investor: Energy, FinTech and Sports.