A few years ago, agile was the buzz word of the world of innovation, regardless of if you worked in research, development or manufacture, everyone wanted to be agile. Now of course agile is just the norm, it’s a hygiene factor. Agile is seen as the way to be faster, better and cheaper, it’s how you achieve competitive advantage and remain relevant in the face of dynamic consumer needs.
At KICR innovation, we don’t disagree with this, in fact agile working is built into our DNA, however we often seen agile being used as a word to cut corners or reduce quality and this is where we feel agile is abused.
It is easy to cut time (and cost!) from the innovation process by just jumping a step, for example by skipping discovery into the consumer need at the start of a project or cutting down the rounds of kitchen experimentation when developing prototypes. Yes, it is a more ‘agile’ process and you might get to a shelf ready product sooner, but are you setting yourself up to succeed? Are you truly going to land a winning innovation that is both novel and useful? We would say probably not.
Months (not just days or weeks), can be stripped from the innovation process and the associated costs of new product development by adopting the following principles:
1. Create not just evaluate
Use consumers earlier, and iteratively, to shape a proposition and ensure you are innovating against a real, compelling consumer need. Working collaboratively with consumers at all stages can provide the guidelines for success.
2. Right first time
Avoid working in silos, which can lead to a great concept and great product, but a disconnect between the two. Working in true partnership, your teams, agency teams, consumers and experts, with clear roles, milestones and deliverables from each stage means decisions can be made quickly and learnings as you go are not lost in the gaps between teams.
3. Know what success looks like
Different strategic business aims will impact how a new product is launched and how it will be deemed as a success. Relying on consistent metrics to define potential is an oversimplification that does not reflect market reality!
4. Technology is your friend
No really it is! From streamlining project management into one platform to using AI and natural language processing in analysis of consumer feedback, through to collaborative working software, the right technology in the right place speeds up innovation, without the need to compromise on quality